What's that smell in the Beijing air? Well, after May 1 it likely won't be tobacco smoke. Beijing to ban smoking ahead of Olympics
Beijing is to ban smoking in most public places from May 1 as part of its efforts to improve the city ahead of the Olympics, state media reported on Monday.
Lighting up in the Chinese capital will be prohibited in all restaurants, offices and schools, becoming the first city in China to have such a comprehensive ban, the China Daily reported.
Hotels must also have rooms for non-smokers, but the proportion is still being discussed, a tobacco control expert involved in drafting the new rule told the paper.
Bars, meanwhile, will be required to clearly separate smoking from non-smoking areas, according to the newspaper.
Institutions that fail to comply face fines of up to 5,000 yuan (700 dollars), and there are proposals to fine individuals up to 200 yuan although this has not been decided yet, the China Daily said.
Beijing authorities had announced in January that there would be a ban, but Monday's report was the first time a start date had been announced.
The city already has some restrictions on smoking in place, such as bans in cinemas, sports arenas and other large public venues, but they have had little success.
Beijing taxi drivers have also, in theory, been banned since last year from smoking in their vehicles.
The approach of the August Games has provided the impetus for the new ban, with Beijing pledging a smoke-free Olympics.
The places that will accommodate athletes and officials during the 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.