Monday, April 07, 2008

Smoking in China

If Olympic medals were awarded for smoking, China would surely win hands down.

China has more smokers than any other country in the world and an estimated 2 trillion cigarettes are smoked annually in the Middle Kingdom by the country's 350 million smokers.

Beijing officials however are clamping down on the weed before the Olympics begin in August. From May 1 smoking is to be banned in government offices and on public transport, with heavy fines to be handed out for those failing to comply.

Non-smoking areas are supposed to be made available in restaurants and bars, with the Olympic Village also becoming a no-smoking zone at the request of the IOC.

However, smoking is very much part of male business culture in China and it will be difficult to enforce a complete ban on the habit. Cigarettes are cheap and one in four Beijingers smoke. Indeed after Deputy Sports Minister, Cui Dalin, announced that the 2008 Olympics would inspire the Chinese to live a healthier life, he prompty went in to a no-smoking corridor and lit a cigarette.

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