A Chinese county has dropped a plan to order its officials to collectively smoke nearly a quarter of a million packs of cigarettes after a public outcry, a report said.
The Gong'an county government in central China's Hubei province was also persuaded to change its policy after officials further up the state bureaucracy intervened, the Beijing Times reported.
The original plan had called for Gong'an government employees to light up 230,000 packs of locally-produced cigarettes among them within a year or risk being fined, a move that was interpreted as a way to help the Hubei tobacco industry.
While announcing that it had given up the scheme, the Gong'an government sought to defend its motives, saying it was actually meant to rein-in the sale of smuggled or fake cigarettes.
China has 350 million smokers and records a million deaths from smoking-related diseases every year.