IS the peace pipe the Government is hoping to smoke with China to be filled with confiscated tobacco from Hongkong? The disclosure that the Government Supplies Department is preparing to sell off five million cigarettes seized from smugglers suggests no commercial venture should be deemed too seedy for this part of an administration which as a matter of policy is trying to discourage smoking. Anti-smoking campaigners rightly have attacked the hypocrisy of selling off confiscated goods for export on the grounds that local people's health is too precious to sacrifice. The reality is that the process has little to do with public health. Its realpurpose is to make windfall cash while ensuring tax-free cigarettes neither undercut the local market nor burn a hole in government revenues. If the Government were really concerned about smokers' health, it would follow the example of Taiwan which recently decided to stop selling confiscated cigarettes. Instead of arguing that others would jump in to fill the same gap in the Asian market, it should be co-operating in regional health campaigns. China's health authorities in particular could do with help. They are fighting an uphill battle against the state tobacco monopoly, which last year made 1.14 billion yuan in taxes alone out of the country's 300 million smokers. All governments are hypocritical when they issue health warnings, while levying taxes on tobacco. However, Hongkong's smoke-signals are murkier than most.