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China: Party Officials Banned From Smoking
China's ruling Communist Party has issued an edict banning officials from smoking in public places or while performing official duties.
Until the notice from the State Council - China's Cabinet - efforts to curb smoking in public were largely limited to city and other local-level measures.
The health ministry pushed out guidelines banning smoking in venues including hotels and restaurants in 2011, but these were criticised as having no clear punishments or details on how bans would be enforced.
The new rules, which campaigners hope will bring about a nationwide law banning smoking in public places, call on officials to lead by example by stubbing out their cigarettes.
Officials are not allowed to smoke in schools, hospitals, sports venues or on public transport, according to Xinhua News.
They are also not allowed to use public funds to buy cigarettes and within Communist Party or government offices tobacco products cannot be sold or advertised.
Ray Yip, head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's China programme, said: "This is likely a major breakthrough.
"For the first time, very high-level attention and support is being given to anti-tobacco efforts.
"This likely will lead to meaningful legislation and enforcement related to smoking."
The foundation has been working on smoking cessation campaigns in the country.
China, with a population of 1.35 billion, has more than 300 million smokers.
Experts say huge revenues from the state-owned tobacco monopoly have hindered anti-smoking measures. Smoking has been linked to an average annual death toll of 1.4 million people in China.
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