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Why is Smoking Cigarettes So Popular in China?


Over 300 million people in China smoke cigarettes. Indeed, throughout most of China, cigarette use is widely accepted and even promoted, while many people don’t believe or fully understand the harm cigarettes can cause. This project attempts to understand why cigarette smoking is so popular. Specifically, I ask whether certain social customs and cultural beliefs are driving tobacco-use in China. To address this question, I conducted background research on tobacco-use in China and other countries and examined the effectiveness of several strategies to control tobacco use. I also conducted an anonymous on-line survey of current smokers, past smokers, non-smokers, and second-hand smokers (n=458) focusing on the role of cultural beliefs in shaping attitudes about smoking behavior. The result of my research suggests that culture does play an important role in determining attitudes towards smoking and smoking behavior. Based on these results, I provide several culturally specific recommendations for limiting tobacco use in China.