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China: Biggest smokers in the world
(China Daily)
Updated: 2008-08-22 07:47

It is known to all that smoking is harmful to health. It is the most serious public health problem in the world.

The smoking problem is even more severe in China. According to some studies, it is estimated 35.8 percent of the people aged 15 and above are smokers in China, and the rate for males is as high as 57 percent. The number of smokers has reached 350 million at present, the largest in the world.

The smoking population also shows a trend of being younger compared with the 1980s. The average age of those starting smoking has declined from 22.4 to 19.7 years old.

As well, because there were no restrictions on smoking behavior, the passive smoke-affected population has reached 540 million in China, and among them 180 million children aged younger than 15 years old.

Each year in China, the deaths of 1.2 million people are associated with smoking. Some smoking-related chronic non-communicable diseases, such as lung cancer and hypertension, have become a main health problem because little attention has been paid to the hazards of smoking and passive smoking.

Smoking-related diseases lead to rising medical expenditures and smoking seriously affected people's living quality.

In 2003, to reduce the harm caused by smoking, WHO enacted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The convention took effect in China on January 9, 2006.

Smoking runs counter to the Olympic spirit. While sports bring positive healthy lives to people, smoking leads to sickness, disability and early death.

All Olympic Games since the Winter Games in Canada in 1988 have been smoke-free. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Game is the first after the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control took effect.

In 2004, on behalf of Chinese government, Premier Wen Jiabao promised that China will hold a smoking-free Olympics.

In order to honor this promise and implement the WHO convention, Beijing municipal government released the regulations banning smoking in the public areas in May this year.

(China Daily 08/22/2008 page20)