China has 15 million more adult smokers in 2015 than it did in 2010, and they’re smoking almost a pack a day on average, even as the government has been trying to get citizens to curb the habit.
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (link in Chinese) finds 27.7% of Chinese people smoke, based on a survey of over 15,000 people above the age of 15 that was published Dec. 28. More than half of all Chinese men, 52.1%, smoke, compared to just 2.7% of Chinese women. In the US in comparison, 16.8% adults smoked in 2014, and the rate of men and women smoking is much closer.
China’s smoking rate is nearly the same as 2010, but the population over the age of 15 has grown, so the study calculates China now has 316 million smokers, a new record.
The average number of cigarettes consumed each day per smoker has also risen, from 14.2 to 15.2, the study found.
The study also suggests Chinese people have a little awareness of the danger of tobacco, despite a several year push to educate the public. While nearly 80% of the respondents know smoking that lead to lung cancer, fewer know about the other risks:
Also, 75.5% of the respondents believe cigarettes with lower levels of tar are less harmful, the study says, due to the misleading promotion from tobacco companies. China’s state-owned tobacco companies have also blocked efforts to curb cigarette advertising.
Beijing introduced a smoking ban in June for all public indoor areas, from restaurants and offices to trains and hospitals. But the results have been mixed, with many Beijing residents are ignoring the ban. While the World Health Organization has urged China to take the smoking ban nationwide, the capital is currently the only Chinese city that imposes one.
An October study published in medical journal The Lancet showed even more grim statistics, reporting that 68% of Chinese men and 3.2% of women smoke, and around two-thirds of young Chinese men start smoking mostly before age 20. The report says tobacco caused about one million deaths in China in 2010 and will kill two million people in 2030.