XI'AN - A CAMPAIGN to keep the streets in Xianyang, Shaanxi province clean by offering residents cold hard cash for each discarded cigarette butt they pick up in urban areas has erupted in a dispute, but local leaders are sticking to their principles.

Hou Xi'an, deputy head of the city office in charge of the effort, explained: "We started the drive as part of an effort to make our city more clean and civilized, increase public environmental awareness and warn against the dangers of smoking."

And Han Baofeng, deputy secretary-general of the city, told China Daily on Wednesday that the campaign will not stop until the end of December.
"We will improve the imperfect measures of the drive and continue our good efforts," Han added.

The drive, which started on Sept 18, was part of an effort to help Xianyang in the competition for National Health City title. The government will pay locals 0.05 yuan (S$0.01) for each cigarette butt they pick up from city streets.

In the past month, loyal citizens have handed over a total of 7 million cigarette butts to the government and more than 100,000 yuan has been paid out for 2 million of the undesirable things. A shortage of funds has kept the other 5 million butts from being paid for.

Cigarette butts for money