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May 4th, 2009:

No butts: China Orders Officials To Smoke 230,000 Packets Every Year To Boost Economy or Face Being Fined

Daily Mail Reporter on 4 May 2009

Chinese officials have been told they must smoke nearly a quarter of a million packets of cigarettes – to boost the economy.

The bizarre order to government workers could even lead to those who refuse being fined.

But the move in the central province of Hubei has left health experts bewildered, at a time when the central government is trying to get doctors to kick the habit and set an example to their patients.

More than half of all male doctors in China smoke, and there are an estimated 350million smokers in the country as a whole.

The Global Times newspaper quoted officials as saying the taxes raised from extra cigarette sales would give the economy a lift.

Chen Nianzu, a member of the local cigarette market supervision team, said: ‘The regulation will be a big help.’

But a health official in Hong Kong labelled the scheme ‘crazy’, adding: ‘They probably won’t live to see the benefits of the money they raise.’

It has also been suggested that the order is a ploy to help local cigarette brands under pressure from competitors in neighbouring Hunan province.

Every year more than a million people in China die from smoking-related diseases.