China / Society

Smoking may claim lives of 1 in 3 young Chinese men

By SHAN JUAN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-10 06:39

Smoking may claim lives of 1 in 3 young Chinese men

A "No smoking" banner is seen in the Beijing National Stadium in this June 1, 2015 file photo. [Photo/IC]

Without intervention and cessation, roughly one in three of all young men in China would end up dying from smoking-related diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular conditions, according to new research published in the medical journal The Lancet.

Currently, about two-thirds of young Chinese men smoke, and a majority begin to light up before age 20. It is estimated that half of them will eventually die as a result of smoking if they don't quit, the studies found. Researchers from Oxford University, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and the Chinese Center for Disease Control conducted the studies, in which young men were defined as those born after 1970.

"The only key to averting this huge wave of deaths is smoking cessation," said Li Liming, a study co-author from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. "Be aware of the health harms of tobacco and do not take to smoking," Li advised.

On a positive note, the research found an increasing trend of quitting among Chinese smokers. Between 1991 and 2006, according to the latest figures available, the percentage of Chinese smokers who managed to quit had increased from 3 to 9 percent, the studies found.

The research, which involved two studies conducted 15 years apart and included at least 500,000 Chinese, found that the number of tobacco-related premature deaths, mostly among men, reached 1 million by 2010. China is the world's largest tobacco consumer.

The toll is expected to hit 2 million by 2030 if the current trend continues, the report warned.

Zhi Xiuyi, head of the Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Center of Capital Medical University, said that 90 percent of lung cancer cases in China are related to smoking, including secondhand smoking.

Official statistics show that China now has more than 350 million smokers, and each year more than 1.2 million Chinese die from smoking-related diseases.

However, "people still lack access to smoking cessation tools and services," said Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development, a non-governmental organization in Beijing committed to tobacco control.

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