Just the other day, I walked into a tea shoppe in downtown Guilin, a very pleasant city in southern China. After making my purchase and making some chitchat with the owner (I know only 10 phrases in Mandarin), two Chinese men came into the store. I gathered these gentlemen were locals. After a brief conversation with the owner, one of the guys pulled out a cigarette and started smoking and also offered the owner a smoke, which he gladly accepted.
Then he turned around, and offered me a smoke. I politely refused, making a waving motion with my hand to signal to him that I didn’t smoke. It turned out this Chinese guy spoke fairly good English and being the inquisitive type, I asked him why do so many Chinese men smoke - most of these guys are heavy smokers, and always coughing and spitting up phlegm. He replied without hesitation, Smoking cigarettes is a good way to make friends and meet people. I just nodded my head and said, well OK!
Personally, I detest cigarette smoke - smoking is a filthy and very unhealthy habit. In China, over 50% of the men smoke. Oh well….