Beijing imposes smoking ban ahead of Olympics

Beijing imposes smoking ban ahead of OlympicsBeijing  - Beijing's ban on smoking in public areas, part of the city's pledge to hold a smoke-free Olympics, went into effect Thursday.

Smoking will not be allowed in schools, hospitals and government offices. The ban applies to all Olympic venues including indoor and outdoor stadiums At hotels, restaurants, parks and bars are required to provide smoking and no-smoking areas.

Violators face a 10 yuan (1.40 US) fine while businesses and institutions can be fined 1,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan.

Enforcement will be conducted by 100,000 inspectors, reported Xinhua news agency.

The ban is part of a commitment officials made for a smoke-free Olympics.

China has an estimated 350 million smokers and about 1 million people die each year from smoking-related diseases, according to the Ministry of Health. (dpa)