Recently, we shared some statistics about combustible cig use in countries around the world, including the most populated of them all, China. According to a recent study published early last month in the renowned medical journal, The Lancet, smoking is set to take the lives of as many as one in three young Chinese men in the next three or so decades.
In China, smoking is a man's game. Because of social norms there, the overwhelming majority of smokers in China are male, with smoking rates among adult women recorded as low as 3 per cent. Data from the study shows that two-thirds of young Chinese men take up the habit of smoking, usually before they are 20 years old. It was predicted that half of those men would die from health issues related to combustible cigs.
“Unless they stop, about half of them will eventually be killed by their habit,” said Oxford researcher and co-author of the article, Zhengming Chen.
The cigarette industry in China is huge, to say the least. Chinese smokers consume over a third of the world’s cigarettes and, as we wrote in our article on smoking around the world, about one million people die from smoking-related health conditions in China per year, which makes up for one-sixth of smoking-related deaths worldwide. Again, to put that in perspective, deaths from smoking in the U.K. amount to about one sixtieth of such fatalities. But for China, it could get even worse.
"The annual number of deaths in China that are caused by tobacco will rise from about one million in 2010 to two million in 2030 and three million in 2050 unless there is widespread cessation," the study claims.
However, cessation efforts can be tough when over 7% of the Chinese government’s annual revenue comes from the state-owned China Tobacco, which is the largest cigarette manufacturer in the world. Not exactly a claim to be proud of.
Perhaps just in time, the vaping industry is making its way into China. Like in other countries around the world, small business owners are opening vape shops online and in brick-and-mortar locations across the country. Since the industry is just getting started there, when so much data supports the common-sense notion that vaping could be a great way to help people quit combustibles, smoking cessation is the focus of many of those business owners.
One such owner is Sean Dickinson, who recently opened Shanghai Vape, one of that city’s first vape shops. He is happy to open his store at a time when the Chinese are still learning about vaping so that smokers who might want to use to quit don’t “buy the wrong stuff.”
One of Dickinson’s proudest accomplishments as a business owner was getting Shanghai Vape’s neighbor, a 50-year-old cook who had been smoking for three decades, to make the switch to vaping. Dickinson says that the man was even enthusiastic about lowering the nicotine levels of the vape juice he was buying.
“So he dropped it to a six, then he dropped it to a three, and now he’s on zero. After two months of vaping,” said Dickinson.
We’ve always known that there would be success stories of people who choose to use vaping as a quitting aid for combustibles, but this one means a lot in a country where smoking is so prevalent. That the story comes from a 30-year smoker is even more powerful. We can only hope that China will experience the disruption to its tobacco industry the way other nations have with the growing popularity of vaping, and that any regulations put in place on the vaping industry are only to ensure its safety as a product and not to inhibit Chinese citizens from making what could be the most important switch of their lives.