The China Tobacco Death Trap

China is the biggest tobacco market in the world. Not only has it the market it also has the biggest tobacco company on the globe. There are an estimated 350 million cigarette addicts in China. These are more than the total United States population. China produces 1.6 trillion cigarettes each year and of the tobacco cigarettes produced world wide 3% are consumed in this same country. Smoking prevalence in China is shocking. In fact the number of people who smoke is thought to increase by some 3 million each year.

What is worrying to anti tobacco activists is that China has a very ineffective or at least weak tobacco regulation regime. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says smoking is “the biggest preventable cause of death in China”. Up to 10000 people die each week due to smoking related illnesses. Nearly 700 000 annually. Due to government controlled and influenced tobacco marketing and production there is little incentive to regulate smoking. In fact the Chinese government enjoys a huge chunk of revenue from tobacco taxes.

Unlike the western world, smoking in bars, pubs and restaurants is still largely acceptable in China. One remarkable smoking ban albeit partial was the banning of smoking in schools and office buildings in the city during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Bars, massage parlours and hotels were spared. Due to relaxed smoking regulations most of the world’s Best pipe tobacco tobacco companies fleeing stinging smoking legislation in America and Europe have set up shop or at least partnerships in China.

It is no wonder incidences of lung cancer shot by up to 465% in the last 30 years. China is deeply sliding into the jaws of a terrible tobacco plague. Most people who try to quit smoking can hardly manage due to the sky high all about smoking prevalence.

A clinic in Beijing reported that out of 60 patients attended to only 3 were able to quit smoking. A shocking 5% success rate. This is no wonder. Smoking cessation needs total family and friends support. This is hard to come by in China were 60% of all males and 4% of females smoke. Even after quitting it will not be long before at home or at work one drowns in a pool of smokers quickly relapsing.

It appears therefore that the real solution is in government policy change. At a minimum tobacco companies should not be allowed to sponsor school projects as was the case in one province. After helping with reconstruction of earthquake destroyed builds a tobacco company was allowed to leave banners on elementary school walls encouraging school children to use tobacco.

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