China

China bans smoking in public places

Reuters/David Gray

China has launched a ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and other indoor public spaces on Sunday in a effort to bring the country in line with health regulations in developed countries.With more than 300 million smokers, health experts have warned that China faces a ticking health bomb unless it curbs smoking. 

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Smoking in China, the world's largest producer and consumer of tobacco, accounts for the deaths of more than a million people each year. In a country were some brands can be bought for as little as 30 centimes, there are fears this figure could triple by 2030.

But offices and factories are not covered by the ban and it remains unclear whether it will be adequately enforced in bars, restaurants and public transport.

Beijing has dragged its feet over enforcing the new regulations. They come into effect four months after the expiration of a deadline set by the World Heath Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which China signed five years ago.

So far, there have been no major nationwide public awareness campaigns to promote the ban and enforcement issues and penalties have not been made clear in the regulations.

Similar temporary bans introduced during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and last year's World Expo in Shanghai were rarely respected or enforced.

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