Meet a Professional Chain-Smoker

Li Hui has a controversial job

By Kevin Spak,  Newser User

Posted Oct 20, 2013 7:43 AM CDT
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(Newser) – Every morning, Li Hui comes to work, sits at her desk, and smokes a cigarette. Then she smokes another. And another, right up until quitting time, puffing about 30 a day. For 21 years now, Li has been a professional tobacco appraiser for Heilongjiang Tobacco in China, the Global Times explains. It's her job to carefully take notes on the taste and quality of the smoke for each cigarette. There are hundreds like her, but with anti-tobacco groups on the rise in China, it's an increasingly controversial profession.

Li, who was a non-smoker when she took the job, has experienced several bouts of dizziness and vomiting at work over the years, but has no intention of quitting. "It's my job, and I like it," she says. "Besides, I haven't seen anyone around me or my friends getting sick from smoking yet." China is a cigarette-loving country, home to a third of the world's smokers. Its government makes 10% of its revenue on tobacco taxes, and essentially controls the industry, Quartz points out; Heilongjiang is state-sanctioned. Meanwhile, the number of teens getting hooked on e-cigs has doubled.

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Their jobs may not be well-accepted by society, but they are vital to tobacco production and quality control. They are very much respected within the industry - Sun Fushan, researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences' Tobacco Research Institute

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