The China Syndrome: A Viral Video of Beijing's Chain-Smoking Tots

By Dirk Hanson 04/13/11

"Does he know how to smoke?" asks one passenger. Another man replies, "Yes, you see he can inhale!’”

An amateur video of two small children on a train in China proudly displaying their puffing prowess has ignited a global social-media uproar. Whether prank or not, the vid is viewed as proof of the immense public-health problem smoking represents for the rising superpower, where 53% of the male population smokes, and a million people die of lung cancer annually. MSNBC reports that no one has come forward to ID the tobacco toddlers or, for that matter, the adults offscreen who laugh as the older boy blows smoke into the younger one's face. "Does he know how to smoke?" asks one passenger. Another man replies, "Yes, you see he can inhale!" A new smoking ban instituted by the health ministry is set to start May 1, nixing nicotine in public places such as buses, restaurants, and bars. But given the fact that the same government agency both runs the nation's cigarette-making monopoly and enforces its anti-smoking laws, these kids may be puffing and coughing well into kindergarten and beyond. See video below.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
dirk hanson.jpg

Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]