More Smoking Please

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This is so sad. In October, restaurant chain Meizhou Dongpo became the first in Beijing to ban smoking. Now China Daily reports that the Sichuan chain might have to close shop because they’ve lost so much business. Some guests even locked waitresses out of VIP dining rooms so they could puff away. Here are some shocking stats about smoking in China:
– Tobacco taxes and profits make up 8% of China’s total revenues
– There are about 350 million smokers in China, which means 1 out of 4 people in China smoke
– Chinese smokers make up a quarter of the world’s smokers
– Almost a million people in China die every year from smoking-related diseases
The situation looks bleak, but with the Olympics just around the corner, there’s pressure to reform. In 2004, Premier Wen Jiabao made a pledge to host a “non-smoking” Olympics. A year later, China signed the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, banning tobacco vending machines. Since then, Beijing has banned smoking in cabs, launched a campaign against smoking in hospitals, schools and restaurants, and drafted plans to ban smoking in Olympic venues and athlete housing. But will all these restrictions help people quit the habit? Judging by Hong Kong’s experience, maybe not. According to a Reuters report, since the city launched a public-smoking ban a year ago, Hong Kongers have been smoking 12 million more cigarettes each month.