In Bid to Curb Smoking, China's Government Finds an Enemy -- Itself

A delegate smokes as he leaves a pre-opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing in March. A delegate smokes as he leaves a pre-opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing in March. Ng Han Guan/AP

Chinese leaders are now banned from smoking in public, using public funds to buy cigarettes, or smoking or offering cigarettes when performing official duties, the Communist Party said in a circular made public Dec. 29, the latest attempt to curb cigarette consumption in a nation of more than 350 million smokers.

As Quartz has reported earlier, the government’s attempts to get its citizens to quit have a formidable opponent—the government itself. China is the world’s largest manufacturer and consumer of cigarettes, with sales providing as much as 10% of overall tax revenue and nearly half of revenues in tobacco-producing states.

The quality (and continued consumption) of cigarettes is so important that China employs state-sanctioned cigarette tasters who smoke all day long for their livelihood. Some of the most expensive state-produced cigarette brands (link in Chinese), like “Yellow Crane Tower” and “Diamond” are made mostly for government officials to give and receive as gifts, contain special ingredients like caterpillar fungus and hand-selected tobacco, and can cost more than $30 a pack.

Read more at Quartz

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