Chinese shun smoke-free restaurant

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images Countries around the world have banned smoking in public places, including France, where even lighting up in cafes and bars is now prohibited. China, which begins its 200-day countdown to the Olympics today, is committed to keeping the games “smoke-free.” Along with cracking down on spitting and littering, the smoke-free promise is part ...

596994_china_06.jpg
596994_china_06.jpg

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Countries around the world have banned smoking in public places, including France, where even lighting up in cafes and bars is now prohibited. China, which begins its 200-day countdown to the Olympics today, is committed to keeping the games "smoke-free." Along with cracking down on spitting and littering, the smoke-free promise is part of the country's effort to make a positive impression on the world.

In a country where 300 million men—equivalent to the size of the entire U.S. population—smoke, though, people have been putting up resistance in at least one location: Beijing's first smoke-free restaurant chain. Meizhou Dongpo, which sells spicy Sichuan food, banned smoking in October and since then, its occupancy rate has plunged to "about 80 percent of that enjoyed by other restaurants across the street," its manager told China Daily. Additionally, diners were locking themselves in private dining rooms so they could surreptitiously smoke. The restaurant now faces going out of business.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Countries around the world have banned smoking in public places, including France, where even lighting up in cafes and bars is now prohibited. China, which begins its 200-day countdown to the Olympics today, is committed to keeping the games “smoke-free.” Along with cracking down on spitting and littering, the smoke-free promise is part of the country’s effort to make a positive impression on the world.

In a country where 300 million men—equivalent to the size of the entire U.S. population—smoke, though, people have been putting up resistance in at least one location: Beijing’s first smoke-free restaurant chain. Meizhou Dongpo, which sells spicy Sichuan food, banned smoking in October and since then, its occupancy rate has plunged to “about 80 percent of that enjoyed by other restaurants across the street,” its manager told China Daily. Additionally, diners were locking themselves in private dining rooms so they could surreptitiously smoke. The restaurant now faces going out of business.

Few other restaurateurs are interested in following suit. When Beijing sent letters to 30,000 restaurants requesting that they ban smoking, not one chose to enforce a ban. They don’t want their businesses to go up in smoke.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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