BEIJING, June 4 (Xinhua) -- China's discipline watchdog will start a joint
campaign with the Chinese Association of Tobacco Control (CACT) to ban
government officials from purchasing tobacco using public funds, according to a
spokeswoman who spoke with Xinhua Thursday.
Zhang Jing, a publicity officer with the CACT, said that the Communist
Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI)
proposed the campaign last week.
"They (CCDI) phoned us last week... They are taking very active interests
in such a joint campaign," said Zhang who, however, insisted that a specific
timetable was not immediately available.
Phone calls to the CCDI office in charge of the campaign were unanswered as
of Thursday afternoon.
Cigarettes are usually presented as gifts in China. But the thin tube of
paper filled with finely cut tobacco has led to a number of government scandals
in the past year.
Zhou Jiugeng was the former director of the real estate management bureau
in Jiangning District of Nanjing in the eastern Jiangsu Province.
Dubbed the "super-expensive-cigarette director," Zhou was removed from his
post on suspicion of embezzling public funds to pursue a luxurious lifestyle,
after photos uploaded by Internet users showed a pack of Nanjing 95 Imperial
cigarettes sitting in front of him. The cigarettes cost about 150 yuan (about 22
U.S. dollars) per pack.
He was also found to be wearing a Vacheron Constantin watch, which costs at
least 100,000 yuan (about 14,632 U.S. dollars) in China, and driving a Cadillac
In another case, the Gongan county in central Hubei province was reported
in early May to have encouraged government employees to smoke more than 230,000
packs of locally produced cigarettes a year. Departments whose officials failed
to meet their respective quota would be fined, according to the county's
The county later overturned the regulations following wide media coverage.
According to Zhang, similar practices were carried out by many government
authorities across China since 2006.
"Previously, our main initiative was to reduce the consumption of low-end
cigarettes by campaigning to raise the tobacco tax," Zhang said.
"Now, we are looking to cut down demand for high-end cigarettes by banning
officials to buy them with public funds."
The campaign may also help fight corruption among Chinese government, she
However, some viewed the CCDI's new initiative as "disoriented."
Shi Yanping, an Internet critic mocked fighting corruption by banning
cigarette purchases to be "like scratching your feet when wearing a pair of
"The core of the anti-corruption work should be the cultivation of honesty
and integrity of the officials," he said.