At once point in America’s history, cigarettes and other tobacco products were thought of as a safe, if mildly offensive, vice. Cigarettes were freely smoked in bars, on the streets, in offices, and even on airplanes. By the time the 20th century neared a close, however, the health and addiction risks associated with tobacco smoking were well established.
Although America’s tobacco industry still commands over a whopping $342 billion in revenue every year, the Center for Disease Control reports that the number of Americans who smoke continues to drop. In 2005, 20.9 percent of American adults smoked cigarettes. By 2015, that number had dropped to 15 percent: an estimated 40.4 million people.
There’s one country, however, that smokes more tobacco than anyone else in the world, accounting for 44 percent of the world’s tobacco consumption: China. According to The Tobacco Atlas, 275,900,000 adults and 8,937,000 children light up every day in China. 45 percent of men and 2 percent of women in China smoke. There are no mandated smoke free universities, restaurants, bars, offices, or even healthcare facilities. The only place in China where there is some smoking control is public transportation. The harsh reality is that 85% of deaths in China stem from chronic, non-infectious diseases, many of which are directly caused by smoking.
Now, the Chinese government is hoping to curb China’s smoking habit with the Healthy China 2030 initiative, which, among other things, aims to bring the proportion of Chinese smokers down to 20 percent by 2030.
It could be an interesting market for anti-smoking technologies, apps, and alternatives, especially given that China doesn’t have nationally-sponsored cessation campaigns or treatments as part of their healthcare. If you’re thinking of opening a vape store, however, you might want to reconsider: Hong Kong is set to ban e-cigarettes by next year and the Chinese mainland is likely to follow suit.
If you’re planning on visiting China and you’re hoping to avoid second-hand smoke, well… good luck.