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Chinese men consume around 40% of the world's cigarettes, causing a substantial and growing burden of tobacco-attributed death and disease. In 2005, the Chinese Government ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and tobacco control measures have since increased nationwide. To assess tobacco control progress, obstacles, and opportunities, this Review describes the long-term evolution of cigarette consumption and the associated disease burden in mainland China, and the implementation of five important tobacco control strategies advocated by WHO. These strategies covered tobacco taxation; package warnings; advertising, promotion, and sponsorship bans; public smoking bans; and cessation services. Although only 2% of women in China now smoke, half of all adult men smoke cigarettes. By the 2010s, smoking accounted for about a fifth of all adult male deaths, and this proportion is rising, following a trajectory similar to that seen in the USA 40 years earlier. The self-regulating national tobacco monopoly and its influence on policy, the country's relatively low tobacco tax, and its weak package warnings and enforcement of other tobacco control strategies all highlight challenges in tobacco control. However, these challenges can also provide opportunities to discourage smoking initiation in young women and encourage cessation in men, assisting China's long march towards better health.

Original publication




Journal article


Lancet Public Health

Publication Date





e1006 - e1015


Adult, Humans, Male, Female, Tobacco Control, Tobacco Products, Smoke-Free Policy, Smoking Prevention, China