Pollution in China is always an interesting topic to cover. People are always concerned with the amount of pollution in the cities and the effects that it has over the population’s health. However, a conference in Beijing decided to take a different approach: they decided to look at smoking as the culprit.
The number of deaths from lung cancer in China has increased by 465% over the past 30 years. Instead of focusing on pollution as the cause for this increase in deaths, experts decided to look at controlling tobacco and promoting the early detection of lung cancer. The 3 causes for the rising rates of lung cancer are the aging population, smoking, and environmental pollution. Lung cancer is the leading form of cancer in China because of these 3 causes that are only getting worse. Lung cancer is the reason for 22.7% of cancer deaths each year in China.
China produces 1.7 trillion cigarettes a year, which is 2.5 times as many as the United States, which is the second biggest cigarette manufacturer in the world. These numbers are huge and should act as huge indicator for the Chinese about what is causing the deaths of so many people. Tobacco is between 7 and 10% of the state revenues, which is a huge factor for the Chinese economy. China has the most smokers, about 350 million.
Reform for this is going to be difficult in China, much like other reforms that China needs to make or is making. China has some restrictions in some public places, but they can be easily ignored. Smoking still remains “the norm” in most hotels and restaurants, especially in the major cities. It seems like it would be difficult to encourage reform from the government when the economy is benefitting and when the population is still in the majority of smoking. The government has a hard time seeing the benefits of reforming something that has a positive effect on the economy. People are buying cigarettes and boosting the economy in that way. People are going to need to see that tobacco is causing just as many deaths as the environmental pollution that everyone seems so worried about. Reform could save lives.