China facing health disaster due to smoking

Updated: 2006-11-09 09:01

China is facing a public health crisis of enormous proportions as three million people take up smoking every year.

Out of a population of 1.3 billion people, 350 million were tobacco smokers, a group larger than the entire population of the United States, the Beijing Daily Messenger reported, citing statistics from the World Health Organization.

"Although the Chinese government and the international community have made a lot of efforts to control tobacco use, the number of Chinese smokers has continued to rise," the paper said.

"China is treading the dangerous border of a health disaster that could strike at anytime due to tobacco smoking."

Such comments were made at a just concluded international conference in Beijing on smoking and cardio-vascular diseases, it said.

If growing tobacco use in China continues at current trends, up to 2.5 million people will be dying in the country annually by 2025, the paper said, citing WHO estimates.

China consumes 1.6 trillion cigarettes a year, about one third of world consumption, it added.

Up to 60 percent of Chinese men smoke, while only four percent of the women smoke, it said.

More than one million people in China die of smoking-related diseases every year and the number will rise to two million by 2020, the health ministry said previously.

A staggering 100 million Chinese smokers are under the age of 18, reflecting a trend for tobacco to reach an ever-younger market segment, according to the health ministry.

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