Trends In Smoking - Chinese Men In Peril, American Women Get Better Cessation

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 2.55.37 PMTwo nationwide prospective studies of Chinese citizens conducted in 1991 (225,721 men) and 2006 (210,222 men and 302,669 women) find a worrisome trend - Chinese men now smoke more than a third of the world's cigarettes.

Cause-specific mortality using death registries and their nationwide health insurance system lead the authors to project an estimated 20 percent of all adult male deaths this decade in China will be linked to cigarettes their all-cause mortality was double that of non-smokers. The problem is much higher in cities.

Yet smoking among Chinese women is down and newer generations are less likely to smoke than ever.

Chinese women smoking

Meanwhile, in the U.S. and Canada support is growing to ban smoking outdoors - and smokers are joining in agreement. Surveys now show that 54 percent support bans outside building entrances. Scotland is even working on a ban on smoking in cars with children inside, which would mirror a law passed in England. Though the science they cite is questionable, nothing good can come from being exposed to second-hand smoke, and the Scots say reducing acute exposure is the goal. Critics dismiss it as "gesture politics," what we in the US call political theater, because so few smokers light up with their children in the car.

Female smokers outside China may also have some good news. The drug Varenicline, marketed as Chantix and prescribed to quit smoking, helps women more than men in the difficult early stages of smoking cessation, according to clinical trial data of 6,710 smokers. Factoring in the placebo effect for women, varenicline was 46 percent more effective in women after three months of treatment, and 31 percent more effective at maintaining complete abstinence after six months, which is the real test of whether or not someone has truly "quit." Women have historically responded less well to other pharmaceutical smoking cessation techniques

After a year, varenicline was equally effective in both genders.

"This is the first demonstration that women compared to men have a preferred therapeutic response for a smoking cessation medication when considering short-term treatment outcomes and equal outcomes at one year. Varenicline appears to be particularly useful for reducing the sex disparity in smoking cessation rates," said lead author Sherry McKee, professor of psychiatry and lead researcher of Yale's Specialized Center of Research in a statement.