Olympic Smoking Ban Stubbed Out Amid Backlash

China smokerIn a less-than-surprising development, it appears Beijing’s plans to ban smoking in public places during the Olympics are being reconsidered. From AFP:

The China Daily had reported two weeks ago that the Chinese capital on May 1 would ban smoking in all restaurants, offices and schools, and require bar owners to separate smoking and non-smoking areas.

It would have made Beijing the first Chinese city with such a comprehensive ban.

But the newspaper said Monday that Beijing authorities had since decided to exempt restaurants, bars and Internet cafes, amid fears China’s legions of persistent smokers would rebel.

“Owners of Chinese restaurants, both big and small, worried the plan would hurt their business,” the newspaper quoted Zhang Peili, a city legislative affairs official overseeing the rules, as saying.

“It is difficult for us to control smoking in restaurants. It’s just part of the culture.”