There are an estimated 320 million smokers in China, accounting for one-third of total smokers all over the world, according to a survey conducted last year by Gallup, a research-based consultancy. The report also shows about 3,000 Chinese people die because of smoking-related diseases each day and this figure is expected to rise to 8,000 by 2050.
"Medically, smoking will enhance the possibilities of getting various diseases ranging from digestion problems and hypertension to arthrolithiasis and heart disease," Huang Yunyu, a doctor at Dongzhimen Hospital, told Metro Beijing.
In order to help people quit, many methods can be explored, such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and psychological treatment.
The TCM method for smokers uses herbs and acupuncture, both tailored to the individual being treated.
"Practicing Chinese medicine to help smokers varies from person to person. Doctors need to make a prescription according to the person's physical status," explained Li Zhengqing from the Xizhihe TCM Hospital. "And this prescription helps to alleviate smokers discomfort when they are trying to quit."
During the early stage of quitting, smokers often feel tired, less energetic and cannot concentrate due to the absence of nicotine. "In this stage, some choose to eat lots of food to replace smoking in order to lift their spirit. So smokers can take some TCM to alleviate these symptoms," said Huang.
Besides using TCM to help quit smoking, psychological methods are also now being applied in China. Unlike in the West, very few people know about them.
Recently a special psychological group for smokers, hosted by psychologist Qi Zhibin, had only two members, which is far below the 10 person minimum for hosting the activity.