Despite recent legislation aimed at curbing tobacco consumption in China, the number of cigarette smokers in the country remains unchanged.
That’s the consensus of a recent study on adult tobacco use conducted by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the study, China has 316 million smokers accounting for 27 percent of the country’s total population. More significant however is that in 2010, the same percentage of the country were smokers. When you account for annual population increases, there are actually 15 million more smokers in 2015 than there were in 2010.
The survey, which consisted of 15,000 respondents over the age of 15, revealed that 52 percent of all Chinese men smoke, compared with just 3 percent of women. On average, Chinese smoked 15.2 cigarettes per day, compared with 14 in 2010.
The study however wasn’t all doom and gloom. Anti-smoking laws have proven effective at reducing secondhand smoke in China. Since 2010, the number of non-smokers reporting exposure to secondhand smoke in their workplaces has dropped seven points to 54 percent. Meanwhile, exposure to secondhand smoke has been halved in primary and middle schools, and even fell 17 points in government buildings to 38 percent.
The survey also claims exposure rates have fallen in restaurants, hospitals, and on public transit.
16 Chinese cities have instituted smoking bans, including Beijing, although local residents frequently light up in defiance.
More than 1 million people in China die every year in tobacco related illnesses. About 740 million are routinely exposed to secondhand smoke, contributing to another 100,000 deaths annually. A recent study went so far as to suggest that a third of all Chinese men under the age of 20 will die prematurely if they do not stop smoking.