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Beijing wants more smoke-free hotel rooms
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In the run-up to the Olympics Beijing wants more smoke-free hotel rooms, and is planning to raise the proportion in each hotel to at least 70 percent.


Public opinion is sought by the Legislative Affairs Office of Beijing's municipal government. Citizens in Beijing can put forward their opinions and suggestions on the Internet from Jan. 21 till Feb. 1.


The smoking ban will build on 1996 regulations and could be expanded to more public places including fitness centers and cultural relics sites, offices, meeting rooms, dining halls, toilets, aisles and lifts in buildings belonging to government or private institutions.


In addition, the outdoor smoking area should not be where the public has to pass through, says the new regulation, posted on the official website of the legislative affairs office (www.bjfzb.gov.cn).


However, fines are only planned to be small - up to 50 yuan (6.9 U.S. dollars), says the regulation.


As the host city for the Aug. 8-24 Games, Beijing wants smoking bans in all hotels that provide services for athletes and other Games workers, and all competition venues and restaurants in the Olympic Village by June.


The city has also banned smoking in hospitals, schools, restaurants and other places.


From Oct. 1 last year, Beijing banned smoking in the city's 66,000 cabs, and imposed a fine of 100 yuan to 200 yuan (14 to 28 U.S. dollars) on drivers if caught smoking in cabs.


China has pledged non-smoking Olympics and Green Olympics, and this year's event will be the first non-smoking Olympic Games after the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), of which China is a signatory, went into effect in 2005.


About 350 million people in China smoke, statistics from the Ministry of Health show. That is about 26 percent of the country's population and a third of the world's smoking population. About 1 million people die from smoking-related diseases each year.


(Xinhua News Agency January 23, 2008)


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