Despite anti-smoking campaign, smoking in China on rise

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Smoking in China
Photo from Xinhua

There are more than 316 million smokers in China, and another 740 million people who are exposed to second-hand smoke.

While the Chinese government has been working to reduce smoking for the past 40 years — including issuing smoking regulations, anti-tobacco advertisements, and public smoking bans — smoking continues to rise.

The Chinese internet company Tencent asked 100,000 Chinese internet useres, including 62,920 smokers, about their smoking habits in November 2016.

Here’s what they found:


Smoking starts young


The survey found that most smokers began smoking when they were 14-22 years old. Those surveyed said that they started because tobacco was easy to get, they had family members who smoked, they thought it was cool, and to gain social acceptance.



The heaviest smokers were in central and western China


Based on the survey, the heaviest smokers were in central and western China and Yunnan province. The fewest number of smokers were in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Respondents were categorized as smokers, former smokers, and non-smokers. Each smoker was given a value of 5, former smokers were valued at 2.5, and non-smokers were valued at zero. The average for each province was then calculated. The higher the average, the higher the level of smoking in a province.



Fatigue, stress a big reason why people smoke


Most of smokers and former smokers surveyed said they smoke to reduce fatigue and stress.



Education level impacts smoking habits


The survey found that people with highest education levels have the highest percentage of smokers who have never tried to quit — but they also make up the highest percentage of people who successfully quit.



Older people favor smoking bans more than younger people


The survey found and nearly 80 percent of people born in 1960s and 1970s support a smoking ban in public places, compared to 56 percent of people born in the 2000s.