China expands smoking ban to ensure green Olympics

May 1st, 2008 - 8:20 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, May 1 (Xinhua) China Thursday expanded ban on smoking to cover all public places, ahead of the Summer Olympics to fulfil its pledge to hold totally smoke-free Games. Unlike the 1996 regulations, smoking bans are extended to more public venues including fitness centres, cultural relics sites, and offices, meeting rooms, dining halls, toilets, aisles and lifts belonging to government or private institutions.

The Beijing Olympics will be the first totally non-smoking Olympic Games after the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), to which the country is a signatory, went into effect in 2005.

Restaurants, Internet cafes, parks, waiting halls in airports, railway stations and coach stations are required to set up separate smoking and non-smoking areas as part of the new regulations.

Hotels are told to set up smoke-free rooms or floors, but the regulations do not specify a proportion.

People caught smoking in prohibited areas will be fined 10 Yuan ($1.4) while enterprises and institutions that violate the ban face fines between 1,000 yuan and 5,000 yuan.

Local authorities will dispatch about 100,000 inspectors to enforce the ban.

The city had banned smoking in hospitals, kindergartens, schools, museums, sports venues and other places before the broadened regulations.

The government in October last year had banned smoking in the city’s 66,000 cabs, and imposed a fine of 100 yuan to 200 yuan on drivers, if caught smoking in cabs.

About 350 million people in China smoke, according to health ministry statistics. The figure makes up about 26 percent of the country’s population and a third of the world’s smoking population.

About one million people die from smoking-related diseases in the country every year.

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