19 January 2008


Beijing's trying to turn smoke-free for the Olympics in 200 days, but it's not going very well.

Authorities wrote to 30,000 restaurants asking them to put a ban in place, and only one took up the suggestion – and it's going out of business.

The Meizhou Dongpo chain of Sichuan restaurants trained its floor staff to discourage people from lighting up only to have them locked out of private dining rooms while customers had a quick ciggy.

Diners are abandoning the restaurants in droves. Numbers have dropped to "about 80 percent of that enjoyed by other restaurants across the street" said Guo Xiaodong, deputy director of the chain.

"We figure that if we're going to die, at least we're going to die honourably," he said.

Smoking in hospitals and schools was banned in October 2007.

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