Li Hui, the tobacco tester, is an organic chemistry graduate; her job involves smoking “tobacco leaves from every production area across the country,” continuously throughout the day. She is so dedicated she was even recognized as a “model worker” by the city of Harbin.

Back then, a non-smoker, she was hesitant about the job, but her strong personality and stubborn streak - and refusal to bow down to any job that a man can do - prompted her to take on the work at a time when advertisements on the hazards of nicotine addiction and anti-tobacco calls were relatively non-existent in China.

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And while most people believe that workers like Li must be compensated well for the health risks they take at work, according to Pan Tingting, also a female tobacco appraiser, at Hubei China Tobacco Industry Co. Ltd., their monthly salary only hovers around 5,000 yuan ($817), Hubei-based Chutian Metropolis Daily reported at the end of last year.

Sources: Quartz and Global Times