China’s addiction to smoking is dragging low-income families further down the economic ladder
Some 44 per cent of the world’s cigarettes were smoked on the Chinese mainland in 2014, consumed by 315 million people, half of them adult men.
Tobacco use is also behind the rapid rise in rates of non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes. At least half of all smokers are expected to die as a result of their habit, according to the WHO.
“If nothing is done to reduce these numbers and introduce more progressive policies, the consequences could be devastating not just for the health of people across the country, but also for China’s economy as a whole, said Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, the WHO’s representative in China.
Migrant workers were identified as the most vulnerable group likely to smoke. The more they move among cities, homes and jobs, the more they were likely to smoke. But with limited access to public health insurance in the city, they were especially at risk to ruinous medical bills for treatment of related illnesses.