Intended for healthcare professionals


Smoking cessation and e-cigarettes in China and India

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 18 October 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6016
  1. Prabhat Jha, professor
  1. Centre for Global Health Research, St Michael’s Hospital and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  1. prabhat.jha{at}

E-cigarette regulation must prioritise smoking cessation among adults

The Chinese and Indian governments have taken steps to restrict access to electronic cigarettes.12 The motivation has been to protect young people from e-cigarette use and possible lifelong addiction and, less altruistically, lobbying by domestic cigarette industries. Protecting young people is a laudable goal but it must be scrutinised using epidemiological evidence relevant to each country.

Prolonged tobacco smoking causes about a million deaths annually in both China and India.345 China and India have about 300 million and 100 million smokers, respectively, about a third of the global total of 1.3 billion smokers. Although smoking prevalence has fallen in India over the past decade, in China it is mostly unchanged. Few women smoke in either country.6 Importantly, among people aged 30-59—an age when adults often consider quittingthere are about 250 million Chinese and Indian men who currently smoke but only about 30 million former smokers. In China, only 10% of male smokers have tried quitting in the past year.6 By contrast, in …

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