Adam Minter has the answer:
Having spent years reporting on this country’s insanely efficient recycling industry, it frankly seemed inconceivable to me that Chinese airports would allow perfectly good carry-on items go to waste (much less, the incinerator). And, tonight, as I arrived at Shanghai Pudong on a late evening flight from Hong Kong, I confirmed my suspicion. There, just on the other side of Customs, was this:
That’s right. The Shanghai Airport authorities are gathering up all of the lighters seized at security, and giving them away to arriving, smoking travelers. Welcome to Shanghai, have a smoke (only partly) on us!
Now, I’m no smoker, but I have to admit that this is the most commonsense solution to a problem that most people never even realized that airport administrators have. Pure genius, and pure, Shanghai-style hospitality!
Now, why don’t they show the same kind of hospitality with all the confiscated booze?