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Gifting and sharing cigarettes in a rural Chinese village: a cross-sectional study


Objectives Quantitative measurement of the prevalence of cigarette sharing and gifting in a town in rural China and evaluation of the impact of these practices on individual smoking habits and family expenditures.

Methods An interview-based cross-sectional study of 105 households in rural Hunan, China tabulated household cigarette gifting and expenditures. Individual smoking and cigarette sharing activities were also recorded among 198 household members aged >15 years who were resident for at least 6 months.

Results With regard to sharing cigarettes, 92% of men and 19% of women reported being offered a cigarette within the past week. Among previous and current smokers who had attempted to quit smoking, 90% reported that their friends had tried to dissuade them from quitting by tempting them with cigarettes. Concerning gifting cigarettes, 74% of households reported sending packaged cigarettes as gifts during the Chinese New Year Festival at an average expense of 2.8% of household annual income. Although households received an average of 12.4% of their annual cigarette consumption in the form of gifts during the Chinese New Year Festival, no association was found between the amount of cigarettes received by a household and the annual cigarette consumption for that household.

Conclusions Both gifting and sharing cigarettes are common in rural China. Gifting of cigarettes during the New Year Festival is a significant expenditure affecting both smoking and non-smoking households and may be an opportunity for additional mass media marketing. Among current and former smokers, sharing cigarettes in China is a major impediment to smoking cessation.

  • Social marketing
  • Denormalization
  • Price
  • Economics
  • Low/Middle income country

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