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Smoking ban helps reduce fires in Beijing
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08:11, May 12, 2008

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A new smoking ban introduced in Beijing since May 1 that covers public places including hotels and parks has cut the number of fires in the city sparked by cigarette butts by more than half, fire authorities have said.

In the first week of this month, the Beijing fire brigade put out eight cigarette-related fires, an average of 1.14 per day, the Beijing Fire Control Bureau said in a press release on Saturday.

The new daily average was less than half of what was reported in the first four months of this year, when the city's firefighters had to put out 325 fires caused by cigarette butts, or 2.7 per day, it said.

The bureau said fewer people have been seen smoking in public after the new ban took effect. The risk of fires caused by randomly discarded cigarette butts has been reduced, it said.

The new smoking ban, a follow-up to a 1996 regulation, has designated more public places smoke-free areas, including fitness centers, cultural relic sites, offices, meeting rooms, dining halls, toilets, and aisles and lifts in buildings belonging to government or private institutions.

Restaurants, Internet cafes, parks, waiting halls at airports, railway stations and coach stations are also required to provide separate smoking and non-smoking areas.

Individuals caught lighting up in non-smoking areas will be fined 10 yuan ($1.4), while enterprises and institutions that violate the rule face fines ranging between 1,000 yuan and 5,000 yuan.

The ban is China's latest effort to honor its commitment of having a smoke-free Games in August, and part of the country's long-term campaign to promote its citizens' health.

Source:China Daily/Xinhua

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