The day has finally arrived. For the millions of tobacco abusers inhabiting Beijing, today is the day they drop a collective tear, while the rest of the population rejoice at the possibility of cleaner air. The public smoking ban is now in effect.
But for those of you addicted to the smokey euphoria that igniting tobacco leaves gives you, there will still be public areas where you may be able to sneak one in without the establishment telling you to stop. So do not fret as here are some of the best places to do so.
There are a number of reasons why the ban won’t reach into the domains of work, not only is smoking deeply entrenched into the Chinese culture, it is also heavily ingrained in Chinese working environments. Business deals are often made under the shroud of tobacco smoke.
If you work in an office building, then you definitely have access to a smoking room somewhere on your floor. Could be a particular empty room, maybe its the stairwell, maybe the toilet, and more often than not, it’s all three.
If you’re a Michelin starred restaurant, then chances are you have already banned smoking on your premises. If you’re just a small cafeteria, tucked away in a hutong somewhere off the beaten track, then chances are you will not stop patrons from smoking. Sure, “No Smoking” will be the official party line, and the walls will be adorned with all the right signs. But you know as well as anyone that “no smoking” often means “no customers”.
For law enforcement officers to tackle the labyrinth of lasers, tables, bottles, bodies, and the sonic bombardment present in a nightclub, they would need the assistance of a small platoon. Even then, cigarette butts can be easily lost among the flood of feet and perpetrators can often feign ignorance. This is all without mentioning the numerous private rooms that larger clubs house. Secretly smoking in a dark corner is simple when the venue you’re in has so many dark corners to choose from.
I’m not just talking about those high-end gentleman’s clubs that play host to China’s rich and famous, but also small locations that those less financially-endowed can hire out for company or private parties. And let’s not forget the cigar bars that can be found in the vicinity of wealthy people.
So while the law seem to be taking this ban seriously—200 RMB fine for smoking and public shaming for repeat offenders, 10,000 RMB fine for businesses—the public are less inclined. Which is why the smokers of Beijing were not too worried when the clock signalled the end of May.
For those of you who wish to quit smoking, you can now get prescriptions for your addiction.