Beijing, Nov 2 (EFE).- Tobacco-related cancer deaths in China, the world’s largest tobacco consumer, will increase by 50 percent over the next 20 years, according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
The report, published in the British Medical Journal’s Tobacco Journal, predicts that 8.6 million people in the Asian country will die from smoking-related cancers by 2040, and that the increase will be more pronounced among women (53 percent) than men (44 percent).
In China, about half of men and two percent of women smoke, and the total number of smokers is more than 300 million.
The researchers mentioned the plans of the Chinese authorities to reduce the percentage of smokers in the country from the current 26.6 to 20 by 2030, which, if achieved and maintained until 2040, could prevent up to 1.4 million deaths.
Although there has been a slow decline in the percentage of smokers, scientists believe that it is insufficient to reach the government target.
The report noted that cancers of the lung, liver, stomach and esophagus, which account for 60 percent of all cancer deaths in China, are frequently linked to tobacco.
The report, which does not include possible deaths from passive smoking, warned that China could find it difficult to maintain an aging society due to the loss in the number of working-age people.
Given that approximately 25 percent of smokers start the vice before turning 18, the researchers say that prevention of smoking among adolescents would be crucial. EFE