Chinese state employees have reportedly been told to smoke nearly a quarter million packs of cigarettes a year—to boost the economy.
Officials in central China’s Hubei province has ordered its staff — including teachers – to puff their way through 230,000 packs of locally made cigarettes, the Daily Telegraph reported on Monday.
And if they fail to meet the target, or are caught smoking cigarette brands produced from neighboring provinces, the employees could face fines, the British newspaper said.
Officials said the edict is aimed at increasing the province’s tax revenues and protecting local cigarette manufacturers from outside competition.
“The regulation will boost the local economy via the cigarette tax,” said Chen Nianzu, a member of the Gong’an cigarette market supervision team.
A local newspaper reported members of a “special task force” raided a local middle school and found three “non-compliant” cigarette butts. The school was not fined, but a teacher said it was subjected to “public criticism” for “undisciplined practices.”
Some 350 million Chinese currently smoke, with around a million dying from smoking-related diseases every year.