600 fined in Beijing for breaking smoking ban

Five months after Chinese capital Beijing introduced a tough smoking ban, 217 organisations and 598 people here have been fined up to USD 89,260 for breaking the law.

Beijing: Five months after Chinese capital Beijing introduced a tough smoking ban, 217 organisations and 598 people here have been fined up to USD 89,260 for breaking the law.

The fines totalled about 570,000 yuan (USD 89,260) Wang Benjin, deputy head of Beijing health inspection institute said.

The ban, which has been in effect since June 1, prohibits smoking in all public indoor places, workplaces and on public transport in Beijing.

China has the highest number of about 300 million smokers and tobacco fetches biggest tax revenue of over USD 145 billion every year.

About a lakh of people die in the country due to smoking related diseases every years. According to rules in Beijing, individuals caught smoking may be fined up to 200 yuan (USD 31), while businesses may have to pay up to 10,000 yuan (USD 1564) if they fail to discourage smoking on their premises.

"Inspections show that schools, hotels and hospitals were the most strict when carrying out the ban, while restaurants have been the worst in enforcing the law," Wang said.

"An anti-smoking hotline received 9,291 complaints, with government buildings and officials' offices the focus of public attention," Wang said.

A total of 429 government organisations have received complaints so far.

Zhang Jianshu, head of Beijing Tobacco Control Association, said almost all law enforcement personnel in Beijing were mobilised to carry out the smoking ban during the first three months after it took effect.

However, local residents are expected to take up more responsibility in the long run.

"More than 10,000 volunteers have joined the force. They carry out secret inspections, dissuade smokers and report problematic organisations to health inspection departments," Zhang said.

Gao Xiaojun, an official with Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, said the city currently has over 4 million smokers, and another 10 million people are exposed to second-hand smoking. 

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