Chinese party officials who smoke in public should be “criticised and educated about their evil influence”, it has been claimed.
The call is part of a crackdown on smoking in China, the world’s largest tobacco consumer.
A circular from China’s cabinet, the State Council, called for Communist Party officials to refrain from smoking in public places or buy cigarettes using public funds, and should encourage their colleagues to quit the habit.
Beijing pledged in 2008 to ban smoking in most public venues, including government offices, but enforcement has remained lax and no-smoking signs are frequently ignored.
Smoking is deeply entrenched in Chinese social life, particularly for men, and luxury cigarettes are frequently given as gifts.
“The phenomenon of smoking in public places remains prevalent, especially for a small number of leading cadres, who not only endanger the public health and environment, but also harm the image of the Communist Party and the government,” said the circular.
Party cadres must not buy tobacco using public funds, and those who break rules on cigarettes should be “criticised and educated about their evil influence,” it said. Leaders at all levels should deal with rule-breakers severely, it added, without detailing specific punishments.
Communist Party cadres should to “take the lead” in kicking their smoking habits to set an example for the public and party bosses should encourage colleagues to quit smoking, it said.
It was also forbidden for government and party organs to provide tobacco or advertise cigarettes internally, and smoking should be prohibited in offices, meeting rooms, restrooms and cafeterias.
An official in the tobacco control office for the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said at a press conference earlier this month that lawmakers will weigh a nationwide ban on smoking in public places next year.
Several major cities have implemented smoking bans in public places, but anti-smoking advocates both inside and outside the country say those bans have not been well enforced.
In a separate announcement, the State Council said those who smoke on high-speed trains can be fined up to 2000 yuan (€239.06), starting in January.