Up in Smoke
has grown in popularity in China, the world's largest producer
and user of tobacco, where most people are unaware of the
associated health risks, Chinese and U.S. researchers say.
Based on a survey of 120,298 people across China, 34 percent
of respondents say they smoke at least one cigarette a day, an
increase of more than 3 percent since 1984. But only 40
percent of both smokers and nonsmokers surveyed are aware that
smoking can lead to lung cancer, and just 4 percent know that
smokers run a higher risk of heart disease.
the public good, the Chinese people need to know the
scientific evidence about disease risk and the potential
benefits of quitting and preventing new smokers from taking up
the habit," the report published in this week's issue of
the Journal of the American Medical Association says.
men are much more apt to smoke than women, the report says.
or 63 percent, of men smoke every day, while 3.8 percent of
women smoke. Among men, 7.5 percent are classified as heavy
smokers of at least 20 cigarettes daily, while only 0.2
percent of women are heavy smokers. Smokers also are taking up
the habit at an age three years younger on average than in the
is in an early stage of a "tobacco epidemic" that
will take a toll in coming years, warns the report's authors,
Yang Gonghuan of the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine
and the Chinese Association on Smoking and Health in Beijing,
and Jonathan Samet of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
An estimated 50 million Chinese smokers are expected to die
prematurely, they say.
Chinese manage to quit smoking, according to the survey, which
2.3 percent of respondents claiming to be former smokers. Yet
16.8 percent of the smokers say they want to quit and the
report projects 50 million of the nation's estimated 320
million smokers want to stop.
remarkably high proportion of Chinese people strongly support
control of the tobacco epidemic, even though the people
underestimate the magnitude and severity of risks from
smoking," the report says. It cautions that "any
policy will require rigorous enforcement because multinational
tobacco companies have demonstrated great ingenuity in tapping
into China, the world's largest market for future tobacco
Million By 2003
expects to have 20 million Internet users by the end of 2003,
four million now, Minister of Information Industries Wu
Jichuan says. Wu also told a business conference he expects
the number of mobile phone users to climb to 100 million from
36 million by then.
number of fixed-line telephones will climb to 170 or 180
million, from about 100 million now, and telephone use is
expected to climb to 22 percent of households from 12 percent
now, he said, and The Survey
to a 1999 Gallup survey of 4000 households across China, over
of the respondents say they want to start their own business,
and over 50 percent say they would like to change jobs. A
total of 10 percent say they have used a computer, 14 percent
say they had heard of the Internet, and 33 percent of
Beijingers from 18-29 years of age have actually surfed the
foreign products, 29 percent say they have seen Western
percent say they have bought foreign music or foreign videos,
and 11 percent say they have read foreign books, newspapers or
magazines. A total of 30 percent say they plan to buy a color
TV within the next two years (up from 21 percent in 1997), 19
percent say they want to buy a digital movie player (up from
11 percent in 1997), and 10 percent say they want to buy a
cell phone, (up significantly from 3 percent three years ago).
Most middle income families in China deposit about 16 percent
of their monthly income into savings accounts, and spend 39
percent and 9 percent on food and housing respectively.
Although urban residents account for much less than half of
the total population in the country, the survey reveals that
the urbanites in China control 70 percent of the country's
wealth. The survey also shows that the average annual income
of urban families in China is about US$3,000 per year.
homes built illegally by party officials have been sold in the
first public auction of its kind. Huang Liufu, former party
secretary in Dujiangyan city, Sichuan province, was one of 21
party and government officials who swindled public funds to
build villas. But he was the only official to be singled out
when the 21 homes went under the hammer recently.
of the villas were sold for a total of nearly rmb 4 million,
the Beijing Youth Daily reports. Interest in the auction was
high with more than 100 people registering for bidding rights.
The Sichuan Commodities Auction Center says the villas were
sold slightly above their market values.
Dujiangyan City Party Discipline Inspection Committee refused
to reveal the total amount of funds misappropriated by the
officials, nor would they release the identities of the other
implicated officials. The scandal was uncovered in 1997. In
addition to being sacked as party secretary, Huang was
punished according to party discipline the following year. The
discipline inspection committee is still trying to sell the
remaining 10 homes, but it is unlikely another auction will be
two of China's largest Internet service providers-the China
Educational and Research Network (CERNET) and Golden Bridge
cut their rates, China's biggest ISP China Net announced that
it will soon sharply reduce its own rates. When this reporter
visited several ISPs in Beijing lately, the ISP said that they
will soon see very sharp reductions in Internet access rates.
Competition from the broadcasting departments is one of the
reasons for the drop in Internet rates. The broadcasting
departments are building networks throughout China. The
Guangdong cable television broadcasting fiber optic cable
network will soon be completed. This service will boost the
speed of Internet service to many customers. The speed will be
between one hundred and one thousand times faster than a
telephone dial-up link but the price will be much less than
that charged on the telecommunications network.
October 1, the People's Bank of China issued the fifth
revision of China's currency. The revision includes the rmb 1,
5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 notes as well as the rmb.10 and .50.
Counterfeiting is an increasingly serious problem in China.
Improvements in technology have increased the quality of
counterfeit money. Laser printing, electronic color separation
and printing, and other new technologies have enabled
counterfeiters to abandon obsolete manual counterfeiting
technologies and use modern equipment to print counterfeit
money. The overall quality and detection methods of Chinese
currency have been improved. These new features include
magnetic microprinted security lines, colored threads, and
various computer and electronic engraving techniques. Experts
say that with this new revision, Chinese currency will have
reached the advanced international level for currencies. The
threshold for successful counterfeiting will have been raised
so high that counterfeiters will face great difficulties.