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Media Statement

For Immediate Release: August 18, 2010
Contact: CDC Division of Media Relations
(404) 639-3286

Statement Regarding First Release of Global Adult Tobacco Survey Result by China

On August 17, 2010, China released its Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) results. Many countries conduct surveys to monitor adult tobacco use, but until recently, no one standard global survey for adults has consistently tracked tobacco use, exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, and tobacco control measures. A fact sheet summarizing the results from China can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/global/gats/countries/wpr/fact_sheets/china/index.htm.

Highlights from the GATS China survey are as follows:

  • There were over 301 million current smokers in China.
  • More than half of men were current smokers.
  • Every 7 of 10 nonsmoking adults were exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Only 23.2% of adults believe smoking causes stroke, heart attack, and lung cancer.
  • Half of smokers spent less than $0.74 on a pack of cigarettes, an affordable price for much of the population.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of premature disease and death in the world and kills up to half of those who use it. In the 20th century, the tobacco epidemic killed 100 million people worldwide; during the 21st century, it could kill one billion. Containing this epidemic is one of the most important public health priorities of our time.

To effectively combat the tobacco epidemic, CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend MPOWER, a set of six proven strategies: monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies; protecting people from tobacco smoke; offering help to quit tobacco use; warning about the dangers of tobacco; enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raising taxes on tobacco. Monitoring the tobacco epidemic is a key step in managing it. CDC oversees GATS, which is designed to produce national and sub-national estimates on tobacco use, exposure to secondhand smoke, and quit attempts among adults. GATS also indirectly measures the impact of tobacco control and prevention initiatives.

Thirteen countries besides China participated in the first phase of GATS: Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russian Federation, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam. As with the other participating countries, results from GATS will assist China in translating data into action through improved policies and programs.

GATS is a scientifically representative household survey of all noninstitutionalized men and women aged 15 years and older using a standard and consistent protocol. Survey data are collected electronically during in-person interviews.

In China, GATS was coordinated by the Ministry of Health and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Funding for GATS is provided by the Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use (partners include the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, CDC, CDC Foundation, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, WHO, and the World Lung Foundation). Technical assistance is provided by CDC, WHO, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and RTI International. Program support is provided by the CDC Foundation.

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