The number of young smokers in China is rising, according to Wang Chen, the president of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, who was speaking at a press conference on tobacco control recently. According to China Daily, Wang said that the number of people aged 15 to 24 who smoke has risen to 18.6% from 12.5% in 2013. That’s a 48.8% increase over the course of just six years.
These rising figures stand in contrast to rates of smoking among adults, which have decreased consistently. China Daily reported that 26.6% of people over the age of 15 are smokers, compared to 27.6% in 2015.
This comes as China continues to take steps to curb smoking, an initiative put forth in the Healthy China Action Plan (2019-2030). As part of this plan, proposals to add more warnings to cigarette packaging as well as implementing higher taxes and adjusting prices of cigarettes are being considered. A platform that sends text messages to help people quit smoking is also under consideration, as a joint venture with the World Health Organization, according to Xiao Dan, the director of the Institute of Respiratory Medicine at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing.
The news also adds context to the recent ban on online sales of e-cigarettes, which was brought into effect to combat the rising number of young smokers purchasing e-cigarettes online.
Earlier this year, Hangzhou became the first city in China to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces. Shenzhen followed suit not long after, imposing its own ban on smoking e-cigarettes in public spaces like outdoor ticket-purchasing areas and waiting areas outside of stadiums, parks, tourist destinations, schools and medical service institutions.
Elsewhere in Asia, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has imposed a ban on the use and importation of e-cigarettes. According to the Straits Times, those seen vaping in public in the country can be arrested by police. So, if you’re planning to travel to the Philippines, leave your e-cigarettes at home.
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