Beijing will prohibit smoking in offices, on public transportation and at restaurants beginning Monday, an initiative applauded by anti-tobacco advocates, China Daily reported. Exactly how authorities in China’s capital city will enforce the smoking ban is unknown.
Health activists have long sought stronger controls on smoking in China, which is the largest consumer of tobacco in the world. The government is considering more anti-smoking laws across the country.
Under Beijing’s new measure, the fine for people caught smoking in public places, including spots in proximity to either hospitals or schools, will be raised to 200 yuan ($32.25) from 10 yuan ($1.61).
People caught breaking the law three times will have their names placed on a government website. And businesses permitting smokers on their properties will be subject to a fine of as much as 10,000 yuan ($1,612.58).
“Restaurant staff have a duty to try to dissuade people from smoking,” said Mao Qunan, a representative of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, according to the Guardian in the U.K. “If they don’t listen to persuasion, then law-enforcement authorities will file a case against them.”
The government will also halt the selling of cigarettes at shops within 100 meters (109.36 yards) of kindergartens and primary schools.
China reportedly has more than 300 million smokers, and additional millions are regularly exposed to the dangers of breathing in secondhand smoke. Over 50 percent of smokers purchase cigarettes for about 5 yuan (81 cents) per pack.
The country’s government recently decided to prohibit tobacco advertising in mass media, on public transportation and outdoors. Bright red banners have been posted around Beijing with anti-smoking slogans and messages. And there is also a hotline tipsters can use to report violators, China Daily said.