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Tobacco smoking among doctors in mainland China: a study from Shandong province and review of the literature

Derek R Smith1*, Isabella Zhao2 and Lina Wang3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, New South Wales, Australia

2 Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

3 Department of Medicine, Longkou Chinese Medicine Hospital, Longkou, Shandong, China

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Tobacco Induced Diseases 2012, 10:14  doi:10.1186/1617-9625-10-14

Published: 24 September 2012



Tobacco control represents a key area in which doctors can make a significant positive impact on their patients’ lives. Despite this fact, however, doctors in certain regions of China are known to smoke tobacco at rates similar to or even exceeding those seen within the general population.


This study sought to investigate the smoking habits of doctors at a teaching hospital in Shandong province, as well as providing a brief review of smoking research that has been conducted among doctors elsewhere in China.


An anonymous questionnaire survey was distributed to doctors working at a university teaching hospital in 2008, as part of a larger study of occupational health issues in the healthcare profession.


The overall smoking prevalence rate of doctors in this study was 36.3% with significant differences observed between the genders (males: 46.7% and females: 5.3%). Age and total career length were also correlated with smoking habit, although no significant associations were found with department of employment.


Overall, our study suggests that smoking rates among doctors in Shandong province are higher than those documented in many other countries, a finding which is consistent with previous research conducted in some other Chinese provinces. Addressing this issue from an intrinsic cultural perspective will clearly need to form the cornerstone of tobacco control efforts within the Chinese medical community in future years.

China; Chinese; Doctor; Physician; Smoking; Tobacco; Medical