That leads me onto something that surprises me. I was listening to the World Service today and they were saying a large number of Chinese people don't realise that smoking's bad for you. Apparently they've signed up to some convention that says they'll ban smoking in public from 2012, and a firm did some research into "attitudes to smoking" because of it. The lack of knowledge of smoking was one of their top findings.
They went on to suggest there might be a few reasons why there's this lack of understanding. First they're supposed to put warning labels on the cigarettes. They do, but the warnings are small and half are written in English (which, you have to admit, is silly). Secondly, the Chinese government is the biggest cigarette manufacturer in the world. There's a huge downside, therefore, to them cutting sales. Thirdly health care costs aren't borne by the state, which means there's no upside to them from complaining about it. Finally, they've not passed tax hikes on to the consumer.
Given all this, it's not surprising that one in three of the world's cigarettes are sold in China.