Beijing braces for strictest anti-smoking laws yet from today

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Jun 01, 2015 10:24 IST

Beijing’s toughest anti-smoking laws will go in to effect from Monday with smoking being banned in all indoor public spaces, work-areas and outdoor places like schools, hospitals and tourist spots.

Additionally, radio, film, television, mobile service providers and Internet companies have been banned from showing tobacco-related advertisements. As the world’s largest tobacco consumer and producer, the number of smokers in China reached the 300 million mark – more than the population of the US -- by the end of last year.

The anti-smoking regulations in Beijing are being as the most stringent yet with anti-smoking posters being put up across the city especially in restaurant, bars, subway, train and bus stations, public places and airport. Anti-smoking campaigns have been carried out across the city by local government officials.

According to state media, following the ban, the capital's airport on Monday will shut down three smoking rooms in its three terminals and open 11 smoking spaces outside.

Similarly, new outdoor smoking areas will be available at more than 600 bus stops around the city.

Along similar lines of anti-smoking laws in India, shops within 100 metres of kindergartens, primary and secondary schools will not be allowed to sell cigarettes.

Despite government efforts, questions are being raised about how effectively the ban will be implemented in a sprawling metropolis like Beijing. The city, according to one survey, has nearly 4.20 million smokers, who smoke nearly 15 cigarettes a day.

“The ban will face its steepest challenge in bars and restaurants, as 90 percent of Beijing's 10 million victims of secondhand smoke are exposed at bars and nightclubs, while 66 percent are exposed at restaurants,” the survey was quoted as saying by state media.

One way would be the steep fines, which have been exponentially increased. Individual violators will be fined up to 200 Yuan (Rs 2000), raised by 20 times from the current 10 Yuan. Restaurants and bars which fail to implement the ban will be fined up to 10000 Yuan (Rs 1 lakh).

The general public is being encouraged to register complaints if they find someone smoking at a banned venue.

What would be the likely impact of the ban on restaurant revenues?

“We have been negotiating with restaurant and bar owners to follow the rules. The ban will be effective only on indoor spaces. So, there might not be that kind of impact. Some owners have already begun to implement the ban,” Lin Xiao Mu, official from the district of Xicheng, a popular hub for bars and pubs, told HT.

“The capital's 1,100 law enforcement officers cannot cover all the public venues every day, but we will increase the frequency of inspections at bars and restaurants,” Wang Benjin, from the Beijing Health Inspection Institute, told the Global Times.

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