Will China’s Death Toll From Smoking Triple By 2050?

By May Wilkerson 10/13/15

China’s massive smoking problem is only going to get worse.

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It seems China’s massive smoking problem is only getting worse. A new study predicts the annual number of smoking-related deaths in the country will triple by 2050, reaching three million deaths a year. Public health advocates hope the report will serve as a wake up call for the government to take action.

The recent implementation of indoor smoking bans in cities like Beijing are viewed as a sign of progress, but advocates say it’s not enough.

"We need to fully implement regulations on tobacco advertising," said Wu Yiqun, an anti-tobacco advocate from the Research Centre for Health Development in Beijing. "In the past 10 years we have made some progress, but compared to other countries, our progress isn't enough.”

In addition to regulating advertising, she recommends the government raise cigarette prices and tobacco taxes, a strategy that has proven effective in other countries at reducing smoking rates.

Cigarettes are cheap in China, costing $2 to $3 a packet in Beijing. A big part of the problem is that the tobacco market is under state control. China’s tobacco industry is dominated by Chinese National Tobacco, which rakes in about 7% of the government’s revenue.

"On one hand the government manufactures and markets the cigarettes, on the other hand it is the body that carries out tobacco control, which means it is a fight between the left hand and the right hand," said Yiqun.

Currently, two out of three men in China smoke according to the study, and approximately one million people die each year from tobacco-related causes.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.