Beijing lawmakers to tighten anti-smoking regulations

Smokers who violate a smoking ban in Beijing will have to pay a hefty fine of up to 200 yuan (31.7 U.S. dollars) after the enactment of an anti-smoking amendment that is currently undergoing a public hearing.

The Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress is holding a public hearing on the drafted amendment. The hearing will close on April 30.

The draft states that smokers may face fines between 50 and 200 yuan for smoking in public places such as restaurants, museums and hospitals, where smoking has been banned since 2008. The current fine is 10 yuan.

Managers or operators of public spaces may also be charged fines between 5,000 and 10,000 yuan if they fail to dissuade smokers to put out their cigarettes.

Another part of the amendment requires tobacco distributors to temporary halt sales on World No Tobacco Day, which falls on May 31 each year.

China has 300 million smokers — the highest number of any country in the world. Health experts estimate that about 740 million people are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke in China, since smoking bans are unheard of in some places and rarely enforced where they do exist.

Xinhua