Nature 489, S18–S20 (27 September 2012) doi:10.1038/489S18a
Public health: Where there’s smoke
Air pollution and smoking have made COPD a major problem in China, now compounded by outdated diagnostics and treatments — and experts say it’s bound to get worse.
A visitor to China may well notice the country’s smog problem as the plane descends. Smog levels in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai frequently dwarf those of other metropolitan centres. Then there’s the cigarette smoke. China, the world’s most populous country, claims about one-third of the world’s smokers — at least 300 million people — who collectively puff 1.7 trillion cigarettes a year. In rural areas, cigarette smoke permeates buses, shops and even doctors’ offices.
Beyond cigarette smoke and outdoor air pollution, hundreds of millions of Chinese people breathe unclean air while working in factories and on industrial-scale farms or while cooking at wood-burning stoves inside their homes.