China to ban smoking in public places

Mao Tse-tung, file
Image caption Chairman Mao Tse-tung was an avid smoker

China is set to introduce a smoking ban in most public places.

According to the Health Ministry, the new regulation will come into effect on 1 May in public places including buses, restaurants and bars.

But an allowance has been made - smoking will still be permitted in workplaces.

Almost a quarter of China's population smoke and more than one million people die every year from smoking-related illnesses.

That accounts for one fifth of people world-wide who die from smoking, according to the World Health Organisation.

With more than 300m smokers, China has long been a place where it is easy to light up.

The new regulations have been welcomed by health activists.

Some believe that the government here has not moved quickly enough to reduce smoking in the country.

Previously, the Ministry of Health had only banned it in hospitals.

The new regulations also include a ban on cigarette vending machines in public areas and a call for programmes to warn about the dangers of smoking.

But the authorities have yet to announce how they will enforce the measures and whether there will be penalties for businesses or individuals breaking the rules.

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