China is on track to reach 200 million deaths from smoking-related diseases by the end of the century, according to a joint report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

China is the largest producer and consumer of tobacco on the planet with 315 million smokers and 44 per cent of the world’s cigarettes smoked in the country.

The majority of the projected 200 million of deaths will occur in the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

The WHO and UNDP say without swift and decisive action to combat the prevalence of smoking, inequality across China will become worse.

Dr Bernhard Schwartländer, a representative of WHO in China, cautioned that if no effort is made to reduce the country’s smoking dependency, the results could have a devastating effect on the nation’s health and economy.

“The rapid increase in costs associated with tobacco use in China is unsustainable, the report reveals, estimating the total annual economic cost in 2014 at ¥350 billion (AUD 75.5 billion), an increase of 1,000 per cent since 2000,” he said.

In China, 28 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men are smokers.

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