China: Hotline to help enforce Beijing smoking ban

A man lighting a cigarette inside a stocks trading hall Image copyright AFP
Image caption From 1 June it will be illegal to light up in public places in Beijing

The authorities in Beijing have set up a hotline for residents to report anyone flouting a new smoking ban, it's reported.

In June, rules come into force which prohibit smoking in all the capital's indoor public spaces, workplaces and on public transport. Perhaps mindful of the fact that previous bans have been widely ignored, officials now want the public to get involved and use the hotline to inform them of any violations, the influential Beijing News daily says. Reports to the hotline will be investigated by the city's health authorities.

Image copyright CATC
Image caption The government suggests people use hand signals like this one, meaning "please stop"

Anyone breaking the rules will face a fine ranging from 200 yuan ($30; £20) for individuals to 10,000 yuan ($1,600; £1,000) for businesses. But repeat offenders will also see their names appear on a government website for month, alongside a list of their offences, the paper says. As well as the hotline, Beijing's city government has recommended hand gestures that can be used to ask people to stop smoking. The signals convey the phrases "please stop", "I do mind" and "don't".

There are more than 300 million smokers in China - nearly a third of all the smokers in the world. According to the World Health Organization, about one million people die from smoking-related diseases each year, and 100,000 deaths are a result of passive smoking. While the new smoking ban currently only applies to the capital, the government recently announced a range of nationwide measures to try to curb the population's smoking habits. It has raised tobacco tax from 5% to 11%, and restrictions on advertising will come into force in September.

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