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Customers desert smoke-free restaurant Vide
PostSubject: Customers desert smoke-free restaurant   Customers desert smoke-free restaurant Icon_minitimeSun Jan 20, 2008 2:01 am

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing's first smoke-free restaurant chain faces going out of business after its customers deserted it in droves after the ban was enforced, state media reported on Friday.

The Chinese are the world's most enthusiastic smokers, with a growing market of more than 350 million, making it a magnet for cigarette companies and a focus of international health concerns.

The occupancy rate at Meizhou Dongpo, a chain serving the spicy fare of southwest Sichuan province, had dropped to "about 80 percent of that enjoyed by other restaurants across the street" after it banned smoking in October, the China Daily quoted its manager as saying.

"We figure that if we're going to die, at least we're going to die honorably," the paper quoted Guo Xiaodong, deputy director of the restaurant chain, as saying.

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