Today is the 18th "World No Tobacco Day" and the theme for this year is "Tobacco erodes life".
According to the statistics released at the "Smoking and Health" conference, organized on May 29 by the Information Office under the Ministry of Health (MOH), there are about 350 million smokers in China, and people were urged to look after their health.
According to the MoH, the ratio of smokers among over 15-year-olds in China had dropped to 35.8 percent from 37.6 percent in 1996. For males the figure had dropped very slightly to 66.0 percent from 66.9 percent, and for females it was also marginally lowered from 4.2 percent to 3.1 percent.
However, due to an increasing population and the fact that people are living longer, the number of smokers has actually jumped by 30 million over the past decade.
The statistics also identify that people were starting to smoke earlier with a rising ratio of smokers aged between 15-24. The average age for someone to start smoking has fallen to 19.7 years from 22.4 in 1984.
Among the male smokers there was evidence that those with a good education became addicted to tobacco more readily. According to the MoH, over 50 percent of doctors and teachers smoked and China had huge number of doctors who used tobacco.
According to related statistics, the Chinese smokers consume about 1.6 trillion sticks annually, accounting for one third of the world's consumption.
It's estimated that almost 1 million people in China die annually from diseases associated with smoking and that figure could rise to 2 million by 2020.
"World No Tobacco Day" has been observed around the world annually on May 31 since 1989. This yearly event is designed to inform the public of the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what the World Health Organization is doing to fight back and how the world can claim back their right to healthy living and protect future generations.
(China.org.cn by Wang Ke, May 31, 2006)