Beijing has an official smoking ban in place, but you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. It sometimes seem that that baijiu-swilling and cigarette-smoking hordes are everywhere you go, including ostensibly family-friendly cafes.
Well, worry no more! The always informative Dr. Richard Saint Cyr is taking a stand. He’s written a roundup of popular cafes on his blog My Health Beijing, scoring them each on a scale of 1 to 10 for their enforcement of the smoking ban. He writes:
I am disappointed especially in the tyranny of the male masses who continue to smoke in the clearly marked smoke-free sections of restaurants and hotels. It’s all too common for the wait staff to cower in fear and not want these lawbreakers “lose face” by asking them to stop.
The best of the bunch was (perhaps surprisingly) American behemoth Starbucks:
Starbucks: 9/10 — Starbucks definitely deserves praise for what they’ve done in China. Before Starbucks came along, there were essentially zero cafes and teahouses for people to escape from the odor of smoke on their clothes. Starbucks came along with its 100% smoke-free policy (indoors, at least) and continues to spread this radical idea into smaller and smaller cities in China. On the rare times I’ve seen people try to light up, I’ve seen the wait staff quickly tell them to please stop. The only major complaint I have is with their outdoor seatings, where I often will see people light up.
The worst offender was Korean chain Maan Coffee, a result made even more disappointing by the fact that the cafe actually has family-friendly waffles and lots of space:
Maan Coffee: 2/10 — I was very disappointed in Maan (漫咖啡), a newer chain in a very impressive glass building near Lido Park. I really wanted this to be my new hangout, but their spacious and lovely second floor is completely reserved for smokers, and the stench and pall was so strong that my wife and I got headaches in five minutes and had to leave early, ruining our planned long stay. Their non-smoking area on the first floor is much smaller, so clearly Maan has decided which demographic to coddle. I mostly feel bad for their workers who are subjected to such high levels of secondhand smoke every day.
Read the original post to find out Dr. Richard’s other picks.
Do you have a cafe to add to the “Yay or Nay” list? Let us know in the comments.
Photo by Sijia Chen