President Barack Obama recently got a lot of flak from people in China for chewing gum while at the APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit there. The Chinese feel his behavior was immature and undignified at best – at worst, insulting.
If only more Chinese did it.
What Obama was chewing was nicotine gum that prevents his cravings for cigarettes. The Chinese definitely need that. Due to hard-sell maneuvers over the past decades – a sort of new onset of what began the Opium Wars – American tobacco firms, in search of fresh customers, founded a habit in China that due to its population size, far outstrips any former, wishy-washy, hooked demographic.
China is the world’s most tobacco-using nation. It will lose over a million citizens to tobacco use each year. In terms of its population, not a large percentage, but in terms of human pain and loss, and economic cost, enormous. “This isn’t a health problem. It’s a huge economic problem. There’s all these things ranging from medical and health care costs, the costs to the families and there’s the cost of secondhand smoke.”
Over 30 impatient Chinese cities have passed their own anti-smoking laws.
Known as “the smoking dragon”, the nation has the potential, as this report indicates, to turn smoking on its head through massive campaigns and education. Whether it can do so fast enough to avert young Chinese taking up the expensive habit remains unknown.
If not, Chinese shops ought to put in massive orders now – for gum.