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China: Smoking prevalence greater in men while women kick habit

New study also finds the number of cigarettes smoked daily has risen

ChinaWomen in China are giving up smoking in far greater numbers than men, according to a new study into smoking prevalence in the country.

Researchers also found that smoking prevalence was highest in rural areas among Chinese men, with the reverse true for women, among whom towns and cities boast greater numbers of smokers.

The report, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, compared the number of people identifying as regular smokers in 2010 with those from an equivalent 1996 national survey.

The researchers, led by Professor Maigeng Zhou of Beijing's National Center for Chronic and Non-communicable Disease Control and Prevention, and the University of Oxford's Professor Zhengming Chen, then collated their research with population census data and a nationally representative sample of 100,000 adults from 31 provinces, detailing their smoking habits.

In 2010 the number of people identifying as regular smokers stood at 318 million; 304 million were men while the remaining 14 million were women.

The average age for men to take up the smoking habit in 2010 was just over 20 years of age - the same as in 1996 - in comparison with just under 27 for women.

Of the 3.4% of women identifying as smokers in 2010, prevalence was highest in women in their 60s at 6.5% compared with just 2.1% of women in their 30s, showing the rapid rate of decline in young women taking up the habit.

Only 17% of men said they intended to quit smoking, and while 11% of 30-69 year olds kicked the habit in 2010 - over double the number from 1996 - the average number of cigarettes smoked daily by Chinese men rose from 15.2 to 17.9.

In total, 1740 billion manufactured cigarettes - which are more harmful than traditional forms of tobacco - were smoked in China in 2010 alone, accounting for 40% of global cigarette consumption.

The researchers have called for greater health education about the hazards of smoking - particularly among those of lower educational attainment or income who are the most affected - and more effective tobacco control throughout the country, which is the world's largest tobacco producer.

A recent World Health Organization report profiling chronic diseases worldwide forecast that by 2020 tobacco use will account for one third of all deaths in China.

Article by
Rebecca Clifford

28th September 2016

From: Healthcare

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