IAG MAR 2014 - page 9

March 2014
In Focus
hina is the world’s largest consumer of tobacco. The World
Health Organization estimates that one of every three
cigarettes smokedon theplanet is smoked there. Itworksout
to7,000cigarettespersmokerperyear,an increaseof40%since1980,
according to a global study conducted in 2012 by theUniversity of
Washington’s Institute forHealthMetricsandEvaluation.Nationwide
it averagesout to2,000cigarettes for everyadult.
WHO puts the smoking population at 300 million in its most
recent Global Adult Tobacco Survey, whichwas published in 2010
and focuses on 16 low- andmiddle-income countrieswheremore
than half the world’s smokers live, eight of them Asian countries.
It amounted to 28% of the adult population at that time and is
supportedbygovernment statistics.TheUniversityofWashington’s
study, a mammoth undertaking encompassing 187 countries,
calculatedChina’s rateat 24%, or about 270millionadults,which is
in linewith their estimates for East andSoutheastAsiaandOceania
as awhole.
Either way it’s frighteningly high comparedwith a global rate
estimated at 18.7%—or, by way of comparison, 16% in North
Africa and the Middle East, 16% in Australia and New Zealand,
15% in North America, 13% in South Asia. China’s is not as high
proportionately as Laos’ (31%) or Indonesia’s (30%) or Myanmar’s
(30%). It’smuchhigher thanThailand’s (19%), Malaysia’s (18%) and
Singapore’s (12%).
Among Chinese men it skews much higher. But this is the
rule across Asia, where women generallymake up less than 5% of
smokers, in contrast to theWest,whereprevalence rates tend to run
almost equal.
Something likemore thanhalfofChinesemensmoke, compared
with less than3%ofwomen, according toWHO’s2010estimate. The
instituteputs it at 45%ofmen and 2%of women andfinds it rising
dramatically above the age of 20—the average is 56% in the prime
casinodemographicofmenages35-54,whichcomprisesmore than
40%of all Chinese smokers, about 113millionpeople.
TheWorldHealthOrganizationputs thenumber ofChinese smokers at
300million, or 28%of theadult population. Amore recent Universityof
Washington study, calculated the rateat 24%. Eitherway it’s frighteningly
highcomparedwithaglobal rateestimatedat 18.7%.
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