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The social context of smoking cessation in China: an exploratory interview study
  1. Jing-Yu Zhang1,
  2. Sophia Siu-Chee Chan2,
  3. Daniel Yee-Tak Fong2,
  4. Ruth E Malone3,
  5. Tai-hing Lam4
  1. 1School of Nursing, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China
  2. 2School of Nursing, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
  3. 3Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA
  4. 4Department of Community Medicine, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
  1. Correspondence to Professor Sophia Siu-Chee Chan, School of Nursing, The University of Hong Kong, 4/F, William Mong Block, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong 852, China; nssophia{at}


Background China has the largest population of smokers in the world. Little previous research has explored the cultural challenges in encouraging smoking cessation in China. This study aimed to explore and generate research questions about culturally distinctive beliefs and barriers to smoking cessation.

Methods A convenience sample of 21 smokers and ex-smokers selected from a Guangzhou hospital smoking cessation clinic and medical ward was interviewed about experiences with quitting smoking. Data were analysed to elucidate culturally distinctive obstacles to cessation that may warrant further study.

Results Three major obstacles to smoking cessation were identified: family and social influences, the myth that quitting smoking is dangerous to health and misinformation from health professionals.

Conclusions This study suggests that smoking cessation in China is made more challenging by a social context in which family, friends and even health professionals may discourage it. However, these identified barriers and beliefs about smoking cessation need to be confirmed in larger, more representative studies in the future.

  • Chinese
  • social context of smoking
  • smoking cessation
  • cessation
  • qualitative study

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  • Funding CRUK and the University of Hong Kong.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Institutional Review Board at the University of Hong Kong/Hospital Authority Hong Kong West Cluster and the Guangzhou No12 Hospital.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.