By Daniel Mark Carr
Jeepers. It’s time to put down that cigarette, take a (deep) breath of semi-fresh air, and read up on these latest smoking statistics in China.
The World Health Organisation has found in a survey that over half of China’s men are smokers and 2.4% of China’s females, totalling 301 million adult smokers in China. Hardly surprising when you can pick up a pack of smokes for around 5RMB.
Whilst 301million is a lot, we do have to take in to account the population of China, and the fact that 301 million is down on the previously quoted 350 million. Harder to swallow is that less than 25% were aware of the health risks of smoking – lung cancer, emphysema – and less than one-sixth were planning to quit!
Also, whilst the survey reports 49 million less smokers, a spokesperson from the World Health Organisation cautioned that the survey only interviewed smokers aged 15 and over. Guess there’s more cases of toddlers lighting up like pros than we originally thought.
The WHO’s China rep, Michael O’Leary, was quoted as saying that the high prevalence of tobacco consumption in China deserves the same level of concern and attention as a SARS outbreak or a H1N1 outbreak.
So why the lack of concern? Commenters on the Wall Street Journal may provide a clue: one commenter wrote that he does not consider a man to be a real man if he does not smoke. Another commenter felt forced to smoke out of politeness. If cultural mores are still in place that still exalt the cigarette, then ‘No Smoking’signs and smoking laws (with no teeth) aren’t going to be enough to cure their dying populace.
On a final note; apparently 70% of non-smokers are affected by passive smoking in their average week. What we want to know; where do the 3 in 10 people not affected by others smoke spend their typical week and how do we get there?!