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Starting today, June 1st, there is a whole new set of rules regarding smoking that will be henceforth implemented in Beijing. Chinese authorities thus intend to drastically reduce smoking in the capital, by applying severe rules that punish smokers severely, in a wide range of ways.
Firstly, it will be strictly forbidden to smoke in public places such as airports, hospitals, schools, restaurants, cafes and many others, under penalty of a significant fine. Beijing has increased its fine for smoking 20 times starting today, making it worth 200 yuan, which amounts to $32,25. This constitutes a very high price to pay since one pack of cigarettes costs between 80 cents and $1,5.
China has some of the lowest prices for cigarettes in the entire world, as they pay much less in taxes for the tobacco industry. Also, lobbying has much more power here than it does in most parts of the world, making China a tobacco production wonderland.
Secondly, being fined is not the only thing that smokers will have to face if they decide to light up in a place dominated by a no-smoking sign. The people have been encouraged to take pictures and make videos of smokers that they whiteness on the streets and inside facilities, and hand them in so that they may be centralized and posted on a public website meant to shame them into quitting smoking.
Furthermore, those who will gather more than three smoking fines will be guaranteed a place on the public smokers list, that will shame them by name, for the whole country to see, all in the hopes of reducing the enormous number of smokers.
Businesses who will not abide these new rules and that will be caught permitting smoking inside their facilities will be fined up to 10,000 yuan, which amounts to a whopping $1,600.
Chinese authorities are employing these harsh methods because smoking has reached gargantuan proportions there at the moment, with over 1 million deaths attributed to smoking taking place every year and with a massive second-hand smoking rate, larger then anywhere else in the world.
Smoking is so popular there because the prices are so accessible to the people. There is even a local habit of offering a pack of cigarettes as a common courtesy gift. This happens precisely because very many people smoke, so many in fact that it makes a pack of cigarettes one of the best gifts, since there is such a high chance that the person who receives it does in fact smoke and will appreciate it. It is somehow similar to the coffee and chocolate that we are used to giving and receiving.
If this city-wide mobilization will prove to be successful in Beijing, there are chances for it to be extended nation-wide. Reducing smoking rates is a worldwide challenge, that is currently regarded as an absolute necessity for improving the health of people all around the world.
Image Source: ibtimes.co.uk