Who smokes?

Years after an indoor smoking ban here in Houston, and after spending a LONG time in the endurance sports community, I can almost forget people still smoke.

So imagine my shock to read this, about how smoking intersects with Coronoavirus, and in particular about the shocking smoking rates in China:

First, 52.1% of Chinese men smoke. That is quite high. Smoking in the US peaked in the 1950s at around 45%. It’s now just under 15%. (Since smoking at the time was heavily gendered, the total for men was likely significantly higher.) […]

But this wasn’t the number I found most surprising. It was how deeply gendered smoking is in China. 52% of men smoke but only between 1% and 3% of Chinese women do. In other words, smoking in China is an almost exclusively male phenomenon. The delta between the two numbers is what surprised me most.

Smoking in the US used to be highly gendered. But that is much less so today after decades in which tobacco companies marketed smoking as a form of female empowerment. Today about 14% or 15% of Americans smoke – 15.6% for men versus 12% for women, according to this recent CDC data.

There’s so much to unpack there — really? MOST Chinese men smoke? — but one of the real icky facts is that the assholes at tobacco firms marketed to women as empowerment. I mean, damn.