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Report: Smoking Will Kill One in Three Young Men in China

A man smokes in front of a "no smoking" sign outside a shopping mall in Shanghai, January 2014. (REUTERS)

A man smokes in front of a "no smoking" sign outside a shopping mall in Shanghai, January 2014. (REUTERS)

From VOA Learning English, this is the Health & Lifestyle report.

If you are a man living in China and smoke, you may want to stop. That is because one in three of all the young men in China will die from smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products.

Researchers reported their findings in The Lancet medical journal.

The report says, "About two-thirds of young Chinese men become cigarette smokers, and most start before they are 20 years old. Unless they stop, about half of them will eventually be killed by their habit."

The researchers conducted two large, countrywide studies on the health effects of smoking. The first study took place in the 1990s and involved about 250,000 men. The second study was launched only recently and is continuing. This study involves about 500,000 adults, both men and women.

Researchers say that in China, the number of deaths each year resulting from tobacco use will rise from about one-million in 2010 to two-million in 2030. They warn that the number will rise to three-million by 2050.

Researchers say there is no silver bullet to make these numbers go down, meaning there is no easy answer to make the problem go away.

People need to stop smoking.

China smokes more than one-third of the world's cigarettes. It also has one-sixth of all smoking-related deaths worldwide.

The story is different with Chinese women.

It seems not many women are smoking in China today. Ten percent of women born in the 1930s were smokers. But among those born in the 1960s, only about one percent smoke. And the rates of death-by-cigarette among women have also dropped.

But that could change.

Researchers note that smoking now seems more fashionable among Chinese women. Some women think it makes them seem more appealing.

Richard Peto is a professor at the University of Oxford. He helped to write the report on smoking. He said increasing the price of cigarettes may be one way to reduce smoking rates.

He said that "over the past 20 years, tobacco deaths have been decreasing in Western countries, partly because of price increases.” For China, he adds, a large increase in cigarette prices could save tens of millions of lives.

Price of Smoking in 2011 (World Health Organization Infographic)

Price of Smoking in 2011 (World Health Organization Infographic)

More information about our quoted expert, Richard Peto, can be found on the website for the University of Oxford.

There it says Richard Peto’s investigations into the worldwide health effects of smoking have helped to change "national and international attitudes about smoking and public health." He was the first to describe clearly the future worldwide health effects of current smoking patterns.

Mr. Peto was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1999 for services to epidemiology. In 2010 and 2011 he received the Cancer Research UK and the British Medical Journal Lifetime Achievement Award.

I’m Anna Matteo.

In your social circles do many men or women smoke? Let us know in the comments section.

Smita P. Nordwall wrote this story for VOA News. Anna Matteo adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

habit n. usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way : a strong need to use a drug, to smoke cigarettes, etc.

conduct v. to plan and do (something, such as an activity)

tobacco n. : a plant that produces leaves which are smoked in cigarettes, pipes, etc.

silver bullet n. : something that very quickly and easily solves a serious problem

fashionable adj. currently popular : dressing and acting in a way that is currently popular

appealing adj. having qualities that people like : pleasing or attractive

epidemiology n. medical : the study of how disease spreads and can be controlled

social circle informal n. a group of close friends

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