Growing Number of Female Smokers Among 360 Million Smokers in China

September 29, 2007 Updated: September 29, 2007

HONG KONG—China is home to a quarter of the world's smokers—about 360 million in total—and it is responsible for one third of annual cigarette consumption worldwide. In a country where smoking is so popular, the amount of female smokers is on the rise.

On September 24, Guangdong's Nanfang Daily reported on a study examining smoking habits. The study, taken from a recent telephone survey conducted by the China Zero Point Research Group, collected information from 2650 smokers in four Chinese cities—Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan (including neighboring counties and townships).

According to survey findings, the smoking rate for people over 18 years old is 2.8 percent and the percentage of habitual smokers run as high as 50 percent of Chinese males.

In comparison, female smokers reported much less of a smoking history: 31.6 percent have smoked less than five years and 70 percent less than ten years. But in recent years, the study found that amount of female smokers is on the rise.

The survey also indicates that the higher the education level means both a lower percentage of smokers and cigarettes smoked. The study finds 21.2 percent of those with a graduate degree are smokers, with daily 14.6 cigarettes. Of those with only an elementary school education or less, 34.5 percent are smokers with daily cigarette consumption averages 19.4 cigarettes.

The study also found that the highest number of smokers was found among China's elderly, who were also found to smoke the greatest quantity of cigarettes in any age group. Among various professions such as senior managers, owners of a private business, individual business operators, and salesmen, senior managers see the highest percentage of smokers, followed by salesmen.