China bans government officials from smoking
Smoker in Nanjing, China. Photo by Flickr user J. Unrau.
The Chinese government has banned its officials from smoking in public as part of an effort to limit smoking throughout the country. China has the largest number of smokers in the world. “Smoking by some party officials not only endangers public health, but also damages the image of the party and the government,” stated the ban issued Sunday. Government officials are banned from smoking in public areas including in schools and on public transportation. Officials are also forbidden from posting tobacco advertisements and selling tobacco products in government offices.
The New York Times’ Mia Li reported that the ban is also being portrayed as an effort to reduce government corruption.
“Many have the experience of bribing officials with cigarettes to get things done,” according to Xinhua, a state sponsored news agency. “Many low-level party members have the experience of keeping officials company when they smoke. A clean government starts with an air-fresh government office.”
While China does not have a national ban on smoking, more than 10 cities throughout the country prohibit smoking in public areas. However, the public bans are widely ineffective, China Daily’s Shan Juan reports. Yang Gonghauan, former deputy director of China Center for Disease Control told Shan, “Currently the bans on smoking have no teeth,” citing ineffective law enforcement that does not take the bans seriously.