Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

China smoking deaths ‘could triple by 2030’ [The Age]


The Chinese love their smoking. 300 million smokers is no small number.

A mainland friend of mine once remarked to me that smoking’s cool, and that it made men look more like men. Quite the antithesis to the upbringing I’ve had in both Singapore and Australia. But that serves as one angle as considering this potential for a Chinese implosion. People still freely light up indoors and in restaurants when I last visited, despite the many courtesy reminders not to smoke indoors.

As a result –  an estimated 738 million Chinese are exposed to second-hand smoke, including 182 million children. To compound the matter – the offering and accepting of a cigarette is considered as a common gesture of greeting. To others I have spoken to, smoking is a sign of material success, that one can afford to smoke one’s life away because it is within reach.

– – –

China smoking deaths ‘could triple by 2030’
Fran Wang
Source – The Age, published January 7, 2011 – 10:09PM

China is failing to deliver on pledges to help its 300 million smokers kick the habit, according to health experts who warned of a sharp rise in tobacco-linked deaths if strong steps are not taken.

By 2030, more than 3.5 million Chinese could die from smoking-related illnesses each year, compared with 1.2 million in 2005, a joint report by Chinese and foreign medical experts said.

The report, “Tobacco Control and the Future of China”, was officially released on Thursday and said China would almost certainly miss a January 9 deadline to impose an indoor ban on smoking.

China, the world’s largest tobacco producer and consumer, pledged to enact the ban when it became a party to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) five years ago.

“China’s score remains low in terms of its implementation of tobacco control and FCTC obligations. China significantly lags behind in its implementation of the FCTC’s requirements,” the report said.

The report was sponsored by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite its pledge, no such indoor smoking ban has been put in place and smokers in China continue to light up freely in restaurants and office buildings.

Tobacco is the country’s top killer, and smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke result in a huge medical and social cost, the report said.

“Medical costs and labour losses caused by smoking are increasing year by year and at an ever-faster rate,” the report said.

Smoking is deeply ingrained in Chinese society and widely accepted, with the offering of cigarette a common gesture of greeting.

As a result, the report said, an estimated 738 million Chinese are exposed to second-hand smoke, including 182 million children.

Government agencies are the largest buyer of high-grade cigarettes, which are often given as official gifts, sometimes as bribes, according to the report.

It singled out the Chinese cigarette industry for particular blame, saying it had seriously undermined anti-smoking efforts and was a key barrier to effective tobacco controls, it said.

“The tobacco industry has become the largest ‘health-hazard’ industry,” said the report.

“Although it is a major taxpayer, the industry is generating a much greater social burden.”

China’s tobacco monopoly acts as the lead entity in implementing the tobacco control framework, which effectively allows it to impede adoption of anti-smoking policies and laws, it added.

The report called for the establishment of a high-level tobacco control bureau to implement rigorous anti-smoking activities and for the government to discourage smoking by hiking cigarette taxes and other market measures.

© 2011 AFP
This story is sourced direct from an overseas news agency as an additional service to readers. Spelling follows North American usage, along with foreign currency and measurement units.

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Filed under: Culture, Domestic Growth, Education, Environment, Health, Lifestyle, Social, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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