January 22, 2008 / 9:58 AM / 11 years ago

Beijing proposes smoking ban for hotels

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing is to ban smoking in 70 percent of the city’s hotel rooms as it strives to clean up its air before this August’s Olympic Games.

A draft law on the official Web site of Beijing Legislative Affairs Office (www.bjfzb.gov.cn) bans smoking inside all hotels except for in “well-ventilated and clearly indicated smoking rooms.”

China has an estimated 350 million smokers and the smell of tobacco is difficult to escape in the country’s capital with existing bans frequently flouted.

The new Beijing regulation, which is open to public consultation but will be enacted on May 31, will later be expanded to cover fitness centers, cultural heritage sites and offices.

Fines for violations will be only 50 yuan ($6.91), however, compared to the 100 to 200 yuan ($14-28) fines taxi drivers face if they smoke in their cabs under a law brought in last October.

Hospitals and universities will be allowed outdoor smoking areas but they must be away from places that people have no choice but to pass through, the draft said.

Smoking is already banned in schools, libraries, cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries, stores, banks and post offices and on public transport.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao promised in 2004 that August’s Beijing Games would be “smoke-free” but there has been no announcement of Olympic restrictions with less than 200 days to go until the opening ceremony.

Reporting by Liu Zhen; Editing by Nick Macfie

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