On March 10 2011 the Ministry of Health announced the implementation of the Regulations on the Administration of Hygiene in Public Places, which formally came into force on May 1. According to the regulations, smoking is banned in all indoor public places such as stores, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, cinemas and other indoor workplaces. Owners of businesses and workplaces (and other indoor public spaces) must take measures to ensure that employees, customers and other individuals entering the workplace do not engage in smoking, and must also place 'no smoking' warning signs in conspicuous areas.

Local health authorities may inspect and audit enforcement of the smoking ban in workplaces from time to time by way of on-site inspections, inquiries and other means. Employers which violate these provisions may be ordered to rectify the violation; failure to do so may render the employer liable for a fine of up to Rmb10,000. If the employer refuses to cooperate with health authority inspections and supervision, it may be fined up to Rmb30,000. In serious circumstances, the relevant authority may order the cessation of business operations and/or even revoke the employer's business licence.

However, it remains to be seen how aggressively these provisions will be enforced, as smoking is prevalent in China and it may take some time before restrictions on smoking become a commonly accepted norm.

For further information on this topic please contact Andreas Lauffs or Jonathan Isaacs at Baker & McKenzie's Hong Kong office by telephone (+852 2846 1888), fax (+852 2845 0476) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]).