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Beijing bans smoking in taxis ahead of Olympics
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Smokers in Beijing now have to butt out their cigarettes when taking a cab as the city will launch a non-smoking campaign in all taxis starting this Sunday in line with its promise to host a smoke-free Olympics next year.

The campaign, launched by the city's Health Bureau as well as the transportation administration and traffic watchdogs, will ask both drivers and passengers to put out their cigarettes during the driveā€”or they will face punishment by traffic authorities, the Beijing News reported today.

Details of the punishments are expected to be announced to the public at the campaign's launch ceremony on Sunday, the report said.

In August, the Beijing Transportation Administration Bureau issued a notice prohibiting cab drivers from smoking on the job. Violators will face a fine of up to 200 yuan (US$26.13), the report said.

The new campaign is part of plans to hold green Olympics, which begin on August 8 next year. The Beijing Olympic Organization Committee has already declared that the Olympic Village, stadiums and vehicles used for the event should all be smoke free, while sales of cigarettes are not allowed in any Olympic-related venue.

But the smoking ban aroused some concerns among drivers who worried that passengers will get angry if they not allow to smoke in the car.

"We have no right to force passengers to butt out and neither can we refuse to offer service if the passenger insists on smoking," a cab driver of Yinjian Taxi Co told the newspaper.

"It is impossible to report to the authorities that someone is smoking in my car as our names and contacts are all listed in the cab, which means we may easily be trailed if those angry passengers want to take revenge," the driver added.

(Shanghai Daily September 20, 2007)

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