Beijingers Need to Butt Out Starting June 1

Or else you could be fined RMB 200

Attention all Beijing residents: If you’ve been thinking about quitting smoking, now might be a good time. Beijing plans to impose a smoking ban in all public spaces effective June 1st. Those caught in the act could be fined up to RMB 200.

Public spaces means offices or other working environments as well as public transportation, schools, daycare centers, youth activity centers, gyms, historical sites, and hospitals. (Yes, up until now it wasn’t illegal to smoke inside a hospital).

While Beijing first proposed a ban in 2008, it was vigorously opposed by China’s powerful cigarette industry. China’s tobacco companies have been able to, for the most part, keep warning labels off their products and ensure cigarettes are sold at low prices. Chinese cigarette manufacturers continue to provide incentives to the government by earning huge revenues and employing a vast number of workers. It therefore remains to be seen how strictly the new smoking ban will be enforced.

China is the world leader in tobacco use, with over 300 million cigarette smokers. Cigarette use has long been entrenched in Chinese culture as a social custom, with cigarettes commonly given as gifts.

Chinese officials were banned from smoking in public places last year, while Chinese films and television programs were banned from depicting characters who smoke.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor