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[ By | 5 Jun 2009 | No Comment ]

When does a boy become a man? For some, it’s growing and mowing that facial peach fuzz on a consistent schedule. For others, it’s turning the monumental age of 18 when the law defines you as an adult. For Chinese boys, smoking is one of the key rites of passage, said He Bing, 28, a Beijing chauffeur who picked up the habit at 16 to imitate the adults around him.

“Some middle schoolers feel like smoking makes them feel more like a man,” He said. “I started for the same reasons.”

Beijing native and club promoter Zhang Nannan, 30, tried his first cigarette at age 11 after stealing it from his father. “‘Why?!’” Zhang said. “’Why did [my father] smoke?’ I wanted to know, so I tried it too.”

China accounts for one out of every three cigarettes consumed worldwide, with a total of 67 percent of all Chinese men and 4 percent of all the women smoking. When it comes to teenagers, 33 percent of males and almost 8 percent of females smoke. Approximately 3,000 Chinese die daily from smoke-related causes. . . .