In a new study recently released in the medical journal, The Lancet, one third of men in China under the age of 20 will die prematurely if they do not give up smoking. The study conducted by scientists at two separate times, 15 years apart, covered hundreds of thousands of people all over China. The study further found that in 2010, one million Chinese died from tobacco. That number is expected to double by 2030.
While some Chinese authorities have attempted to take action against this smoking epidemic, such as Beijing ‘s government introducing a public smoking ban, efforts have been hindered by smoking’s popularity and its strength as a source of tax revenue. It is reported that the Chinese government collects over $66 billion (420 billion Chinese yuan) in tobacco tax revenue each year.
With such popularity, and limited support from Chinese authorities, it is estimated that only 10% of smokers are able to quit by choice. Most are simply forced to quit when they are too sick to continue.
This smoking epidemic is not unique to China. It has quickly become a problem for many other countries in Asia, such as India and Indonesia. India faces a smoking health crisis that has led to serious adverse health issues affecting its population. Every year around one million people in India die from smoking-related causes. Coinciding with this smoking health crisis, India is experiencing a large increase in cancer-related deaths—about 60% increase from 1990-2015.
Indonesia also remains one of the top smoking countries, as nearly 70% of men of age 20 and over are smokers. The country also has little to no regulations in regards to tobacco purchase and smoking age. This lack of regulation has a led to a fall in the average beginning smoking age, from 19 years old as of 2005 to estimates as low as 7 years old as of 2015. WHO has reported that nearly 426,000 Indonesians die each year due to smoking, and smoking accounts for almost a quarter of all yearly deaths.
Asia’s large and ever increasing smoking population presents an opportunity for foreign device and drug companies to alleviate the many health problems smoking has brought about.