Beijing says full smoking ban "impossible"
BEIJING (Reuters) - Banning smoking completely in Beijing is "impossible" but the city will do its best to ensure a smoke-free environment for the Olympics through new regulations to come into force on May 1, officials said on Thursday.
The new regulations ban smoking in sports venues, parks, on public transport and in schools but restaurants and hotels are exempted.
The Olympic host city had pledged to restrict smoking in most public places before the August 8-24 Games and is committed to achieve a "thorough indoor smoke-free" environment required by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by 2011.
"But smoking is closely related to people's lifestyle, and particularly Beijing has a large smoking population," Li Lingyan, Vice Director of Beijing Legislation Office, told a news conference on Thursday.
"Therefore in some places like catering and internet cafes, we are not able to completely eradicate tobacco. It's impossible."
Nearly a quarter of Beijingers above the age of 15 smoke.
Cigarettes and cigars will also be prohibited in all indoor gyms and stadiums as well as the stands of outdoor stadiums, cultural heritage sites, teaching areas in colleges and common areas in government offices.
Restaurants, bars, internet cafes and amusement parks can now have separate smoking zones and hotels should provide non-smoking rooms or floors, according to the new regulations.
Smokers who violate the rules will be fined 10 yuan ($1.43) if caught breaching the regulations by one of 100,000 tobacco control inspectors who will be roaming the city. Work units that do not follow the rules will receive a 1,000 to 5,000 yuan fine.
(Take a look at the Countdown to Beijing blog at http://blogs.reuters.com/china )
(Reporting by Liu Zhen; Editing by Nick Mulvenney and Nick Macfie)