BEIJING, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- Chinese officials are asked to "take the lead" in adhering to the smoking ban in public spaces.
According to a circular from the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, officials are not allowed to smoke in schools, hospitals, sports venues, public transport vehicles, or any other venues where smoking is banned.
Government functionaries are prohibited from using public funds to buy cigarettes, nor are they permitted to smoke or offer cigarettes when performing official duties, the circular notes.
"Smoking remains a relatively universal phenomenon in public venues. Some officials smoke in public places, which does not only jeopardized the environment and public health, but tarnished the image of Party and government offices and leaders and has a negative influence," reads the circular.
The sale of tobacco products and advertisements will no longer be allowed in Party and government offices. Prominent notices of smoking bans must be displayed in meeting rooms, reception offices, passageways, cafeterias and rest rooms.
China is the world's largest cigarette producer and consumer. The number of smokers exceeds 300 million, with at least 740 million nonsmokers regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.
In 2003, China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and it became effective in January 2006. The FCTC requires a reduction in tobacco supply as well as consumption. The 12th Five-Year plan (2011-2015) promised to ban smoking in public places.
Experts are widely critical of the current government effort, which lags far behind the FCTC standard, and no national law is yet in place banning smoking in indoor public places.