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Smoking biggest threat to health in rural China

2012-04-05 16:53     Web Editor: Li Jing comment

Smoking has become the primary threat to health in China's rural areas, said Zang Yingnian, former tobacco control consultant at the World Health Organization (WHO).

Zang made the comment during an interview with China National Radio (CNR).

There are 350 million smokers in China, and over 1 million people die every year from illness caused by smoking tobacco. With the rising price of tobacco, low-income families have no choice but to buy the cheap cigarettes, which is more harmful to their health, according to an investigation by CNR.

China's most low-income families live in the countryside.

"Some urban residents voluntarily begin to give up smoking, but there is no similar action in the rural regions. Some people continue to smoke after a little improvement in health," said An Dongshan, a doctor at People's Hospital in Jilin province.

In China, 1.7 trillion cigarettes are produced every year, generating profits of 50 billion yuan ($7.9 billion). However, medical costs for cigarette-triggered illness takes up 3 to 5 percent of China's total annual health expenditures.

China signed the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003, but so far there has been no domestic legislation to ban smoking in public places.

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