Beijing is about to extend a ban on smoking in public places ahead of the Olympic Games despite the Chinese capital's image as a paradise for smokers who have faced few restrictions on where they can light up.
According to a draft bill published on a municipal legal affairs website, the majority of public places, such as restaurants, schools, hospitals, stations, libraries and museums will have to be non-smoking.
AdvertisementHotels will also have to reserve at least 70 percent of their rooms for non-smokers.
Smokers who ignore the ban will face a fine of 50 yuan (6.9 dollars, 4.7 euros) while those who allow them on their premises will have to cough up between 1,000 and 5,000 yuan, according to the bill.
Beijing had already taken some tentative measures to establish non-smoking areas in 1996 without much success, but the approach of the August Games provided the impetus for the new decision, Chinese media said.
The places that will accommodate athletes and officials during the Beijing Games will all be non-smoking.
China has about 350 million smokers, or about a quarter of its population, and accounts for a third of the world's smokers, according to official statistics.
About a million people die of smoking-related diseases each year in China. Since October, Beijing taxi drivers have in theory been banned from smoking in their vehicles under penalty of a fine of between 100 and 200 yuan.