In 2018, 26.6 per cent of the mainland’s population aged 15 or older were smokers, according to the survey, which was conducted by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) between July and December. This is a decline of 1.1 per cent compared with a similar study by China CDC of 2014 and 2015, the report said. Despite a general decline, great difficulties still exist for China to bring down the percentage of smokers to 20 per cent by 2030, China CDC said in a statement.
The survey showed that public support for tobacco control is increasing. More than 90 per cent of respondents said they were in favour of a total ban on tobacco in the workplace and more than 95 per cent said they support a ban on smoking in hospitals, middle and primary schools and public transportation. Almost 80 per cent said they hoped for a smoking ban in restaurants, the report said.
Zhi Xiuyi, vice-president of the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, said China faces severe challenges in tobacco control to protect people's health, despite the progress made. "Only a few big cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have strict tobacco control regulations and law enforcement, but in most areas in China such regulations are absent," he was quoted as saying. The biggest obstacle to tobacco control in China is the powerful tobacco industry, which is one of the biggest tax contributors to the government, he said.