Beijing is set to ban or restrict smoking in most public venues starting May 1 as part of the Chinese capital city’s pledge to hold a smoke-free Olympics, the city's legal office said.
New legislation to take effect on May 1 will forbid smoking at government offices, public dining halls and business plazas, and on public transport, the office said, but falls short of setting outright bans at restaurants, bars and clubs.
Smoking is already banned in cinemas, gymnasiums and other enclosed public places in the capital, but the rules are not strictly enforced.
The new regulations extend smoking bans to sport venues and fitness centers, but allow smoking away from "service areas" at restaurants, bars, clubs and parks. Hotels would be required to provide non-smoking rooms.
The new rules would bring the city "in line with international conventions and fulfill the promise of a smoke-free Olympics," said Zhang Peili, director of the city's legal office. The Beijing Olympic Games start on August 8.
Institutions that fail to comply would face "immediate fines" of up to $5,000 yuan ($700).
The Chinese are among the world's most enthusiastic smokers, with a market of about 350 million, making it a magnet for cigarette companies and a focus of international health concerns.
Beijing banned smoking in taxis in October and launched an awareness drive targeting businesses and residents last year.