One-Third of Young Chinese Men to Die from Smoking

UN Wire

In 1998, one-quarter of the deaths of those in Hong Kong between the ages of 35 and 69 were tobacco-related (from the UN Wire). Researchers predict that unless the tobacco epidemic is addressed, China and other developing countries will soon find themselves in the same grim situation.

From the UN Foundation News Wire:

One-third of young Chinese men will die from smoking-related causes within the next few decades, according to research published this week in the British Medical Journal. The study, conducted by Oxford University and the University of Hong Kong, says two-thirds of young men in China smoke and "half the smokers who persist will eventually be killed by their habit," said research co-director Richard Peto.

The Chinese government is believed to be the largest producer of cigarettes and consumes one-third of the world's supply, BBC Online reports (Aug. 16). Tracking all 1998 deaths in Hong Kong, where people started smoking two decades prior to those on mainland China, researchers say one-quarter of the deaths of those between the ages of 35 and 69 were tobacco-related. Tobacco accounted for 33 percent of deaths among men and 5 percent of deaths among women.

Hong Kong's pattern "may well foreshadow what will happen among men throughout mainland China, and in other developing countries, over the next few decades," the study says (Emma Ross, Associated Press/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Aug. 16).

Researchers say the problem can be averted by encouraging smokers to quit (BBC Online). Researcher T.H. Lam warns that smoking rates in China have not yet peaked. "This history of Hong Kong is actually a repeat of what we have seen in Western countries, such as United States and such as Britain," he said (BBC World Update, Aug. 16, Note: You may need to download free software to access this audio link).

The information above appeared in the Thursday, 16 August 2001 issue of UNWire, Copyright, National Journal Group, 2001. Please visit The United Nations Foundation for more information.

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