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Women now main target of tobacco firms

[ 2010-05-19 11:42]     字号 [] [] []  
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The number of female smokers in the country may see a sharp rise as Chinese women have become the main target of tobacco companies, a government official said on Tuesday.

Li Xinhua, a division chief with the Ministry of Health's department of women, children and community health, said Chinese female smokers will probably jump by 10 percent if the government does not impose stricter control.

"Statistics suggest that by the year 2002, 3.1 percent of women were smokers in China. Without further intervention by the government, it may easily pass 15 percent in the years to come," Li said.

Due to a shortage of funds, there have not been any new surveys on the smoking population since 2002.

Li made the warning at a two-day conference to train 60 spokesmen to raise anti-smoking awareness. The event, held in Capital Medical University, ended on Tuesday.

According to Li, China's male smokers have accounted for 66 percent of all Chinese men.

"Sixty-six percent is already saturated. That means around 50 percent of men will die before they are 65 years old and the tobacco companies will be forced to cultivate a new market among women," Li said.

Female smokers have a different psychology from male smokers, said Wei Wuming, a professor with the Communication University of China.

"Most women started smoking because they thought it was fashionable and could keep them slim," Wei said

"The tobacco companies capitalize on these to attract them."

Now Chinese tobacco companies reportedly have cigarettes specially designed for women, with colorful packages and fruit flavors.

Wei also said that with the spread of feminism, more women in developing countries will consider smoking as a sign of self-consciousness.

In China, the number of women suffering from second-hand smoke is growing. China has 350 million smokers and 540 million people are suffering from secondhand smoke. About 70 percent of Chinese women are suffering from secondhand smoking, Wei said.

He Yao, director of the institute of geriatrics in the Chinese People's Liberation Army General Hospital, said 82 percent of Chinese male smokers smoke at home, 35 percent smoke at work and 67 percent in public places.

Professor Zhi Xiuyi, an expert on lung cancer, said Chinese women who had lung cancer increased by 30 percent in the last five years.

The number of people that died of lung cancer also rose by 50 percent in urban areas and 30 percent in rural areas in the same period, Zhi said.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Women now main target of tobacco firms

Women now main target of tobacco firms

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China daily for one year.