Chinese professor apologises for smoking during lectures ‘for inspiration’

  • Wang Meng’s habit sparks controversy after he is seen in video smoking a cigarette while addressing students at Communication University in Beijing
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2018, 8:04pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2018, 11:15pm

A visiting professor at one of China’s top universities has sparked controversy for smoking during his lectures and encouraging students to take up the habit because it was “inspirational”.

It prompted Wang Meng, a media lecturer at Communication University of China in Beijing, to post an apology for his behaviour on microblogging site Weibo on Monday.

“It is wrong to smoke in public places, and it is even worse that I was smoking in a classroom. I did not care about students’ feelings, and did not consider the possible impact of second-hand smoke on my students,” he wrote.

Wang’s habit came to public attention in a widely circulated video that shows him smoking a cigarette while giving a lecture at the university on Sunday.

“He simply said that he had to smoke during class, and claimed that it gave him inspiration or something,” one student told news site Pear Video.

“He said his desk was another world where he could smoke – and if anyone else wanted to smoke with him, they could join him up there.”

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Wang would also joke about the high rate of smoking in China, where over half of adult men smoke.

Students said that he would take 30 to 40 minutes to smoke a single cigarette, Pear Video reported.

On social network WeChat, one student wrote: “He said that his lecture desk is like a border – his side is the smoking area, our side is the non-smoking area.”

Wang, who also works at state broadcaster CCTV, pledged to quit smoking in his Weibo statement, which drew many sympathetic comments from his students.

Communication University of China also released an official statement on Monday condemning Wang’s actions, adding that he had offered to resign as a part-time professor.

“The classroom is a sacred place. Wang’s conduct violates Beijing’s smoking control laws and a teacher’s code of ethics,” the university wrote on Weibo.

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Smoking is banned in indoor and certain outdoor public spaces in several major Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Xian.

China has the world’s largest smoking population, estimated at around 350 million of its 1.3 billion people, who smoke a third of the cigarettes manufactured in the world annually. More than a million people a year in China die from smoking-related illnesses.

Prominent nationwide public health campaigns in recent years have drawn greater attention to the dangers of public smoking, including second-hand smoke.

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