A study on smoking-attributable health economic costs in China was conducted from 1988-1992, in which three major categories of chronic diseases, diseases of cancer, diseases of circulatory system, and diseases of respiratory system were included. A prevalence-based method which estimated the cumulative effect of cigarette smoking during the past 20-30 years was used. The results show that in 1989, the total smoking-attributable economic costs to health sectors in China were about 27.1 billion of Chinese Yuan, including about 7 billion Yuan in direct medical costs and 20 billion Yuan in indirect costs, which include indirect morbidity costs and indirect mortality costs. The relatively low direct costs reflected the low medical costs at hospitals in China at that time. And the high proportion of indirect costs relative to the total costs shows the high potential years of life lost due to cigarette smoking. The results also show the heavier health burden in urban areas than in rural areas, reflecting the worse situation in urban China at nowadays. But if considering that almost 80% of the Chinese are rural farmers with the higher smoking prevalence and relatively shorter history of manufactured cigarette smoking than their urban counterparts, the very frightful situation due to cigarette smoking would be for China in the next century.