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April 24, 1996

Answer Sought for 'Tobacco Giant' China's Problem

JAMA. 1996;275(16):1220-1221. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530400008005

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Shanghai, China

ON APRIL 1, Shanghai Medical University held a ceremony to mark the end of smoking throughout its campus. That this is the first medical school in China to ban smoking is not surprising considering the prevalence of cigarette use among health professionals here.

According to a 1989 survey, 68% of male physicians in Beijing, the capital, were smokers—which is even higher than the national rate of 61% for males 15 years of age and older (from a 1984 survey that represents the most reliable data available).

Smoking prevalence for women in China was 7% in 1984. However, tobacco control experts believe that number has climbed substantially under the influence of China's rapidly expanding economy and the increasing popularity of Western ways. Altogether, about one third of Chinese adults smoke—more than 300 million persons, or one fourth of the world's smokers.

Problem Largest in World  The seriousness of China's