More than half of all male doctors in China smoke, but the government is now trying harder to get them to kick the habit in order to set an example for others, state media reported Tuesday.
"Medical workers and those who make decisions regarding people's health should take the lead in quitting smoking and completely banning indoor smoking," Health Minister Chen Zhu said according to the China Daily.
"International experience has it that when doctors give up smoking, it encourages a lot of others to kick the habit," he was quoted as saying.
It will be an uphill battle, as 56.8 percent of all male doctors in China smoke, the highest in the world, the paper reported, citing the China Preventive Medicine Association. No figures were given for the smoking rate among all doctors.
Some hospitals are moving forward on their own initiative to rein in smoking, with the Beijing Chaoyang Hospital awarding a bonus to employees who do not smoke, according to the paper.
China has 350 million smokers, of whom a million die of smoking-related diseases every year.