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Tough public smoking ban begins in Beijing

New Chinese legislation cracking down on smoking in the capital, Beijing, has gone into effect. Those flouting the rules will be fined and publicly named and shamed.

A new

ban on smoking indoors in public places

has begun in the Chinese capital, Beijing.

The laws ban smoking indoors in public places, including in restaurants, offices and on public transport.

There are more than 300 million smokers in China, the world's largest tobacco consumer. More than half of Chinese smokers buy cigarettes for less than five yuan ($0.80, 0.73 euro) a pack.

Some 3,000 people

die in China every day

from smoking-related diseases.

The new rules have been welcomed by

anti-smoking activists

, who have long campaigned for stronger restrictions on lighting up. But some have questioned whether the new measures will be effective, as previous rules were seldom enforced.

Anyone who violates the ban - which include smoking near schools and hospitals - will be hit with a 200 yuan fine, up from 10 yuan. The names of those breaking the law three times will posted on a government website for a month. Businesses failing to comply will also be fined.

China's parliament passed legislation last month banning tobacco advertising in mass media and in public places. Bright red banners have been posted around Beijing with anti-smoking messages, and a hotline to report violators has been set up.

"We couldn't say this is the strongest law in the world,"

Angela Pratt

, from the World Health Organization's Tobacco Free Initiative, told Reuters.

"But it's certainly up there with the strongest, in that there are no exemptions, no exceptions and no loopholes on the indoor smoking ban requirement."

jr/cmk (Reuters, AFP)

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