smoking in china Jiwei Han/ZumaPress

Smokeless China

Despite some efforts to reduce smoking, China has avoided outright prohibition, owing largely to the huge amount of revenue generated by the tobacco industry. Are electronic cigarettes the answer?

BEIJING – In a few weeks, Beijing will implement a city-wide ban on smoking in all indoor public spaces, such as restaurants and offices, as well as on tobacco advertising outdoors, on public transportation, and in most forms of media. If the initiative, agreed late last year by the municipal people’s congress, is successful, China may impose a similar ban nationwide.

A significant decline in smoking would undoubtedly bring enormous public-health benefits to China. But is it feasible?

With an estimated 300 million smokers, China represents one-third of the world’s total and accounts for an average of roughly 2,700 tobacco-related deaths per day. The costs of treating smoking-related diseases, not to mention the associated productivity losses, are considerable.