Study Says Many Chinese Smokers Unaware Of Risks
Smoking has grown in popularity in China, the world's largest producer and user of tobacco, where most people are unaware of the associated health risks, Chinese and U.S. researchers said Tuesday.
Based on a 1996 survey of 120,298 people across China, 34 percent of respondents said they smoked at least one cigarette a day, an increase of more than 3 percent since 1984.
But only 40 percent of both smokers and nonsmokers surveyed were aware that smoking could lead to lung cancer, and just 4 percent knew that smokers ran a higher risk of heart disease.
``For the public good, the Chinese people need to know the scientific evidence about disease risk and the potential benefits of quitting and preventing new smokers from taking up the habit,'' the report published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association said.
Chinese men were much more apt to smoke than women, the report said. Nearly two-thirds, or 63 percent, of men smoked every day, while 3.8 percent of women smoked. Among men, 7.5 percent were classified as heavy smokers of at least 20 cigarettes daily, while only 0.2 percent of women were heavy smokers. Smokers also were taking up the habit at an age 3 years younger on average than in the 1984 survey.