Beijing to Curb Smoking

Beijing, China, capital of a country that is home to the world's most smoke-friendly population, is aiming to ban smoking in many public spaces. The ban comes just in time for its hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, according to local media reporting on an announcement from the city's legal office today.

The New legislation, reported China Daily, is to take effect on May 1 and will prohibit lighting up in government offices, public dining halls, business plazas and on public transportation. It does not go so far as to outlaw smoking outright in restaurants, bars and nightclubs -- allowing smoking away from "service areas" in the aforementioned establishments.

Smoking is already banned in the city's cinemas, gymnasiums and other enclosed public spaces, according to China Daily, but not strictly enforced. The new rules will also extend to sports venues and fitness centers, and hotels will be required to house non-smoking rooms.

These new regulations bring the city "in line with international conventions and fulfill the promise of a smoke-free Olympics," said Zhang Peili, director of the city legal office, in the China Daily article.

Institutions in violation of the laws would face immediate fines of up to 5000 Yuan, or $700. The Beijing Olympics begins in August.

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