China’s Smoking Epidemic – Latest Updates

China’s Smoking Epidemic – Latest Updates


Hi, I’m Lucas Niewenhuis, a news editor
at SupChina and today we’ll be talking about China’s smoking epidemic. China is
a nation addicted to cigarette smoking. Go to any city in China, including the
growing number that do have smoking bans for restaurants and public places, and
you’ll see people, middle-aged men especially, smoking everywhere — including
in restaurants… the stairwells of non-smoking buildings and even at hospitals. Over 300 million people or 25% of the Chinese population regularly puffs on cigarettes. For comparison, that’s equivalent to the total United
States population, where the smoking rate is 15%. Smoking has become extremely
normalized in mainland Chinese culture. Even many doctors smoke. One survey found that 42.5% of surgeons had smoked in front of their patients. The public health consequences of the cigarette smoking epidemic in China are massive. In 2018 there were nearly 800,000 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed and every year over a million Chinese people die from tobacco-related illnesses. So there are two obvious questions to answer. Why and how did smoking become so widespread in China? And is there any movement for change? In one respect the answer is very simple. Money. Specifically government revenue. The tobacco industry in China contributes between 7 and 11 percent of Chinese government revenues, through a combination of taxes and profits, as all
cigarette companies in China are directly owned by the government. One
state-owned company called Chinese National Tobacco Company has profits
that exceed the combined profits of 3 comparable British and American
companies: Altria, Philip Morris International and British American
Tobacco. There is also a cultural component to smoking in China.
Gift-giving is important in Chinese culture, even in casual everyday
situations and cigarettes are used as gifts for building relationships as well
as to display generosity during festivals and weddings and as business
favors. Smoking has become so normalized that one official at CNTC said that
restricting smoking would cause social instability. Smoking in Chinese culture
is heavily gendered, with over half of all men being smokers but only 2.4% of women. In the United States, about 16 % of adult men
and 14 % of adult women smoke. Is there any movement for change? Since 2008,
more than 12 cities have passed legislation to control tobacco and these
public commitments represent the beginning of a national effort to
protect the Chinese people from smoking and smoke exposure. China committed to
tobacco control and its 12th five-year plan in December 2013
by restricting government officials from smoking in public places and then
banning smoking in schools, colleges and universities in January 2014. Smoking
rates have declined slightly over the past several years from more than 27% to
the whole population in 2010 to closer to 25% today but there is still a
huge way to go and as long as the government sees the revenue from tobacco
as essential to their finances, then China will remain a smoker’s paradise
with staggering rates of lung disease.

3 thoughts to “China’s Smoking Epidemic – Latest Updates”

  1. So many people judge smokers and drinkers but they theirselves drink gallons of healthy colas or other great sodas a day while forcing down 6 hamburgers to their throats and finishing it with liter of ice cream

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