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China Bans Officials From Lighting Up in Public

Chinese delegates attending a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in 2012
Chinese delegates attending a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in 2012Photograph by Ng Han Guan/AP Photo

The largest employer in the northern Chinese city of Zhangjiakou is a cigarette factory, which like all of China’s tobacco operations is run by a state-owned company. The plant’s most famous product is the Zuanshi “Diamond” brand cigarette, after which several streets and public monuments in Zhangjiakou have been named. One of the city’s new bridges over the Sanggan River even has white posts designed to resemble cigarettes.

Yet despite the cozy relationship between the tobacco industry and the local government, officials in Zhangjiakou are now prohibited from smoking in public. According to a directive issued by China’s State Council, government employees across China will no longer be able to use public funds to buy cigarettes or to smoke at public functions, as Xinhua reported on Sunday. Chain-smoking officials “not only jeopardize the environment and public health, but also tarnish the image of the Communist Party and government offices,” the directive reads.