Beijing Bans Smoking in Time for Games

But earlier rules were no match for cigarette-addicted
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2008 4:28 AM CDT
A man smokes a cigarette on a sidewalk in Beijing.    (AP Photo/Greg Baker, File)
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(Newser) – China, the world's most populous country, is also home to the planet's largest number of smokers. But in the latest effort to clear the air for the Olympics, Beijing has banned smoking in government offices and public transportation, and mandated smoke-free areas in restaurants as of May 1. The penalty:  $700 for lighting up illegally in a country where a pack of smokes goes for 20 cents.

Whether the ban will be enforced is another matter, writes the Times of London. Smoking is already outlawed in taxicabs, but drivers continue to puff away. Even the minister who announced the new law is having a tough time. After extolling the virtues of the measure, he promptly lit up—in a hallway designated "no smoking."