Smoking fatalities set to triple in China

January 7th, 2011 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Jan 7 (IANS) Deaths from smoking in China will triple to 3.5 million annually by 2030 and lost productivity from smoking-related health problems will hamper the country’s economic growth, say experts.China’s state-owned tobacco industry is hindering anti-smoking measures, experts have warned in the report titled Tobacco Control and the Future of China.

“As the health impact of smoking, including rising heart disease and lung cancer, gradually emerges, it will affect China’s overall economic growth due to lost productivity,” China Daily Friday quoted Yang Gonghuan, lead author of the report, as saying.

The report attempts to quantify the financial cost to China of smoking. Last year, it cost 61.8 billion yuan ($9.3 billion) more to treat people for smoking-related illnesses and pollution, than the tobacco industry generated in profits and jobs created, said Yang, deputy director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

China is the world’s largest tobacco producing and consuming country, with more than 300 million smokers in the country, official statistics showed.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 1.2 million people die annually from smoking-related diseases in China and the figure will increase to 3.5 million annually by 2030.

The report underscores rising concern that China’s economic potential will be jeopardized due to escalating medical costs and lost productivity if the government fails to take serious action to combat smoking.

The report comes ahead of a Sunday deadline by WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to China to ban smoking in public indoor venues and tobacco advertisement, said Xu Guihua, deputy director of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control.

The FCTC took effect in China Jan 9, 2006 as a binding law after being ratified by Beijing.

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