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A study led by researchers from Oxford Population Health has described the long-term impact of cigarette consumption in China and assessed the implementation of five key tobacco control strategies advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO). The review is published in The Lancet Public Health.

A man smoking a cigarette.

Worldwide, smoking is responsible for more deaths than any other external cause. If current patterns persist, smoking will cause around one billion deaths this century, mainly in low- and middle-income countries, such as China.

Chinese men consume around 40% of the world’s cigarettes which is causing an increase in smoking-related diseases and deaths. It is estimated that three million people per year in China could die from smoking-related causes by 2050 unless a substantial number of current smokers stop smoking permanently.

To assess tobacco control progress, obstacles, and opportunities in China the researchers collected data from 19 surveys. They found that while there has been a reduction in the number of people who smoke since the 1990s, there has been an increase in higher risk smoking behaviours such as a younger starting age, which can significantly increase risks of disease later in life, and an increase in the number of cigarettes smoked each day.

The proportion of deaths in China from smoking-related causes has increased from 12% reported in the 1990s to 20% in the 2010s, particularly in men who live in urban areas and start smoking at an earlier age.

The review also assessed five tobacco control strategies: taxation; package warnings; bans on advertising, sponsorship, and promotion; public smoking bans; and smoking cessation services.

Read the full story on the Nuffield Department of Population Health website. 

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