Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em: China to Ban Smoking Indoors

On May 1st, smoking indoors in public places such as restaurants, bars, and on buses will be prohibited with fines reportedly in excess of 30,000 RMB to be levied to violators of the ban, though no specific instructions have been given as to how and for what those fines may be levied.

China has the world’s largest population of smokers at 300 million, just shy of the entire population of the United States. Smoking has ingrained itself into Chinese culture and it is common to offer a cigarette on first meeting someone as a gesture of goodwill. The practice is so ingrained, in fact, that even half of Chinese doctors are smokers.

This isn’t the first time that China has attempted to curb smoking in the country. There was also a ban in place during the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008 which was seen to be effective in the short term, but which went largely ignored once the games had ended. Guangzhou has also tried to enforce a penalty, but with a mere 50RMB fine levied to violators, the ban has not seen positive results.

The most recent ban was intended to begin on January 9th, 2011 in accordance with a World Health Organization push to decrease smoking worldwide.

What do you think? Should the government bother? Will the new regulation be effective in the face of such opposition?

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