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Smoking cessation in China: findings from the 1996 national prevalence survey
  1. Gonghuan Yanga,
  2. Jiemin Mab,
  3. Aiping Chenb,
  4. Yifang Zhangc,
  5. Jonathan M Sametd,
  6. Carl E Taylord,
  7. Karen Beckerd
  1. aChinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, and The World Health Organization, bChinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, cChinese Association of Smoking and Health, dThe Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, and The Global Institute for Tobacco Control, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Professor Samet, Department of Epidemiology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, 615 North Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USAjsamet{at}


OBJECTIVES To describe patterns of smoking and smoking cessation in China within the context of the stages of change model, using data from the 1996 national prevalence survey.

DESIGN A cross sectional survey was carried out using the 145 preselected disease surveillance points, which provide a representative sample for the entire country. A standardised questionnaire on smoking was interviewer administered.

SETTING The country of China.

SUBJECTS 122 220 people aged 15–69 years.

MAINTENANCE MEASURES Smoking cessation patterns, as defined by smoking status (current or former) and stage of change (precontemplation, contemplation, and action).

RESULTS The sample included 45 995 ever smokers of whom 4336 had quit. About 72% of current smokers reported not intending to give up their smoking behaviour, and about 16% of current smokers said they intended to do so, but have not taken any action. Of all ever smokers, the percentage of former smokers was 9.5%, and 12% of current smokers had quit at least once, but relapsed by the time of the survey. The patterns were similar in men and women with regard to the stated intent to quit. Among males, the percentage of former smokers increased with age but the percentage intending to quit was constant at about 15% across age strata. The most common reason for quitting was illness. Participants with a university education were more likely to have made an attempt to quit.

CONCLUSIONS The percentage of smokers contemplating quitting was low in China in 1996. The study shows that smokers in China must be mobilised to contemplate quitting and then to take action.

  • 72% of current smokers in China did not intend to give up smoking in 1996

  • About 10% of ever smokers in China have stopped smoking

  • The relapse rate equals the rate of quitting

  • Key professional groups (health workers and teachers) have similar cessation patterns to the general population

  • The most common reason for quitting was illness

  • Smokers in China should be mobilised to contemplate quitting and then to take action

  • China
  • cessation
  • smoking patterns

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