Cigarettes have indeed become one of many people's favorite companions. Although this so-called hobby in lifting spirits has been proven by doctors to harm human health, it is nonetheless regarded as a kind of culture among Chinese smokers.
One cup of tea in hand, and a cigarette between fingers. This is a typical scene at a large number of businesses in China.
Li Zhao, the young manager of a company in Beijing, belongs to this group.
What Li calls "smoking culture" has been a habit of many Chinese people, regardless of social status. Businessmen smoke because they consider it a basic communication need, while students smoke because they think it's cool. Cigarettes have been treated as an icon of social status by both men and women.
When being asked about the implementation of a ban on public smoking as of Sunday, which means there will be no more smoking zones and non-smoking areas in restaurants and other public places, Li expresses a bit of a dilemma.
Li is one of 350 million smokers in China, where tobacco is deeply entwined into the national culture, from the gift cigarettes given to male guests at nearly every wedding, to the glossy images of national icons that decorate cigarette packages, which many smokers collect as their beloved hobby.
All of that adds to the difficulty facing the impending smoking ban. Then there's the importance of the tobacco industry as one of the backbones of national fiscal revenue, as well as the country's lack of specific laws on this issue.
CCTV reporter Zhang Bo said, "When it comes to China's national smoking habit, the government has already moved well beyond the first step of conceding. Yet to thoroughly ban it from public places, may call for legally binding rules and regulations, to reduce smokers’ long-term addiction to it, and the awareness of the general public to obey them. "