The world's biggest cigarette consumer is taking steps to stamp out smoking in indoor public spaces—and unlike earlier anti-smoking measures in China, officials say this one will be strictly enforced with clear penalties put in place, CNN reports. A third of all smoking worldwide takes place in the country, and "unless there is change in China, we won't proceed further in reducing the tobacco epidemic in the world," a senior adviser at the World Lung Foundation says.
Smoking rates in China have dipped a little over the last few decades, but population growth means there are now more smokers in the country than even before, the New York Times finds. The average number of cigarettes smoked daily per smoker has actually risen since 1980, from 15 to 22. Unlike in other countries, however, greater independence has not caused an increase in smoking among Chinese women: Only around 4% of the country's smokers are female, down from 8% in 1980.