Huge market potential in smoking cessation
Updated: 2011-05-28 13:53
Doctor Lu Ankang tests a smoking patient with a device to measure his carbon monoxide level at Ruijin Hospital in Shanghai, April 27, 2011. [Photo / Reuters]
"I often cough up blood, and doctors said I had bronchiectasis, so I wanted to quit smoking," the 56-year-old man said.
Li said that he started smoking when he was 15 years old and has tried to kick the habit at least ten different times without success.
"In 2009, I managed to avoid smoking for a whole year, but I regained the addiction after smoking just a single cigarette," Li said.
Chaoyang Hospital is Beijing's first hospital to have its own smoking cessation clinic. The clinic's four full-time doctors treat about 1,000 patients annually.
According to Xiao, there were only one or two patients coming in each week when the clinic opened in 1996. The number of patients has increased gradually since then.
"Since May 1, when the national indoor smoking ban took effect, more and more smokers have decided to try to quit smoking," said Xiao.
Drug stores across China have seen smoking cessation aids fly off of their shelves since the ban was enacted.
"Nicotine patches are our most popular cessation aid," said a salesperson at a pharmacy in Beijing's Chaoyang district.
On taobao.com, China's largest online retailer, electronic cigarettes are some of the most popular smoking cessation products available. Prices for the e-cigarettes ranging from less than 100 yuan ($15.4) to 500 yuan. More than 56,000 e-cigarettes have been sold through the site, according to sales figures.
Other popular smoking cessation aids include toothpaste, cigarette holders and Chinese medicines. However, since these products have not been scientifically proven to be effective and are not regulated by the government, smokers are advised not to buy them, Xiao said.
Foreign pharmaceutical companies are now seeing China as a major target for their latest smoking cessation medications.
"Large pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Novartis make significant profits on smoking cessation medications sold in countries like the United States and Canada, but it may take a long time for them to develop the Chinese market before they can recover their costs," Xiao said.Zhi Xiuyi, a physician at Beijing's Xuanwu Hospital, said that imported smoking cessation medication often costs more than 2,000 yuan for a full round of treatment and is not covered by medical insurance.
"Smokers may think, 'how many cigarettes could I buy with the money I'm spending on this medication?' and give up the idea of quitting," said Zhi.
The Chinese hotel industry experiences a building boom, prompting fears of oversupply.
Chinese pearl farmers dominate the world market but now want to work smarter, not harder
Li Yuchun first came to prominence in 2005 as the Super Girl winner, and since then has become an international star.