'Chinese Dream' luxury cigarettes not for sale, tobacco company says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 3:39pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 4:18pm

The "Chinese Dream", President Xi Jinping's slogan, is harmful to your health, at least, if inhaled.

Photos of cigarettes branded "Chinese Dream" have been circulating online for about a week, prompting cigarete maker Hubei China Tobacco Industry to deny that the cigarettes named after Xi's political slogan have gone on sale.

The cigarettes, designed as a variety of the priced Huanghelou brand, "are a creative product independently designed by staffers, and not an officially recognised and promoted product," the Wuhan-based company told the People's Daily Online.

The company also said that the purported price of 1,000 yuan (HK$1,265) per packet was inaccurate. The packets included a "not for sale" tag, which led netizens to speculate about the brand being one exclusively produced for high-level cadres.

Mao Zedong had his No 2 cigarettes produced by a special work unit of 13 employees. Deng Xiaoping famously smoked Panda-branded cigarettes, which are still often given as a gift.

In contrast, President Xi has not been seen smoking in public recently. In the 1980s, he was, however, photographed smoking Lotus-brand cigarettes. First Lady Peng Liyuan, a renowned Soprano, has been serving as a national "non-smoking ambassador" since 2009.

In addition to the damage to public health, luxury cigarettes have often been linked to government waste and corruption in China. Either bought with government funds or given to officials as gifts, which they could exchange at stores into cash, they have come to be seen as a veiled form of corruption.

In April, leaked documents showed that China's State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, which controls 40 per cent of the world's cigarettes sales, is trying to crack down on cigarettes that cost more than 50 yuan per packet.

Netizens have not failed to notice that an expensive cigarette brand named after Xi's slogan would not be help with the president's current campaign for cadre austerity.

Chinese makers of baijiu, a pungent white liquor, have also latched onto the Chinese Dream branding frenzy. A Jiangsu distiller recently launched its "Blue Chinese Dream" branded liquor. Baijiu liquor is often served by officials at government banquets. 

Additional reporting by Amy Li