Beijing has started implementing China's toughest smoking ban, prohibiting smoking in bars, restaurants, offices, shopping centres and public transport.

It remains to be seen how strictly the ban will be enforced, as smoking is woven into the fabric of Chinese culture.

China is the world's largest consumer and producer of tobacco. Almost 2.3 trillion cigarettes were consumed in China in 2009 – more than in the next four highest tobacco-consuming countries (Indonesia, Japan, the Russian Federation and the United States of America) put together.

Beijing smoking ban
Parents visit their sick child in a hospital in the rural village of Chao Jiang in southwest China's Yunnan provinceNir Elias/Reuters
Beijing smoking ban
A miner smokes a cigarette during a break at a mine in Changzhi, Shanxi provinceReuters
Beijing smoking ban
A vendor smokes as he works at a pork wholesale market in Taiyuan, Shanxi province in this photo taken in August 2009Reuters
Beijing smoking ban
An elderly man smokes a cigarette in front of a temple in BeijingDavid Gray/Reuters
Beijing smoking ban
A man smokes while working at a rare earth metals mine at Nancheng county, Jiangxi provinceReuters

Low taxes keep the price of cheaper brands at less than five yuan (£0.53, $0.81, €0.74) per pack. The China National Tobacco Corporation has a monopoly on cigarette production, generating between 7 and 10% of government revenue, despite the low taxes.

Smoking remains largely a male preserve: the World Health Organisation says 300 million Chinese people smoke, including about 60% of all men, and only 3.3% of women. However smoking rates are on the rise among the young and among well-educated, high-income urban women, fuelled partly by increasing social acceptance of women smoking.

Beijing smoking ban
A woman smokes a cigarette inside a bar in BeijingFred Dufour/AFP
Beijing smoking ban
A woman smokes a cigarette inside a disco in Beijing's Sanlitun night club districtPaula Bronstein/Getty Images
Beijing smoking ban
Women smoke in an alleyway in BeijingKevin Frayer/Getty Images
Beijing smoking ban
A homeless youngster smokes a cigarette along a street in Hefei, east China's Anhui provinceAFP

The WHO report estimates 740 million Chinese are exposed to second-hand smoke. The group says lung cancer kills more than 1.3 million people in the country each year, one-third of the global total.

The report also predicted that 50 million Chinese children, mostly boys, will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases.

It also says that only 25% of Chinese adults have a comprehensive understanding of the specific health hazards of smoking, and less than one-third of adults are aware of the dangers of second hand smoke.

Beijing smoking ban
A motorcyclist smokes a cigarette through the gap of his helmet as he waits at a traffic light in BeijingBarry Huang/Reuters
Beijing smoking ban
A labourer smokes while taking a rest at a cinder dump site in Changzhi, Shanxi provinceReuters
Beijing smoking ban
A widower smokes at the door of his home in Yuncheng, Shanxi provinceChina Daily/Reuters
Beijing smoking ban
A performer dressed in a traditional costume smokes as he uses his mobile phone during his break at a temple fair celebrating Chinese lunar New Year in BeijingJason Lee/Reuters

According to the ban, operators of businesses should discourage their customers from smoking, and ask those who refuse to leave or report them to the related authorities. Violators face fines of up to 200 yuan (about £21) and business owners who fail to enforce the ban may be fined up to 10,000 yuan.

The new law also stipulates that cigarettes may not be sold in shops within 100 metres of primary schools and kindergartens.

Beijing smoking ban
A cleaner stands in front of giant "No-smoking" signs on the exterior of the National Stadium, also known as the Birds' Nest, in BeijingReuters
Beijing smoking ban
Students wearing masks with "no smoking" signs attend an anti-smoking lecture at a school in Fuyang, Anhui provinceReuters
Beijing smoking ban
A man smokes as he plays mahjong inside a parlour in Beijing on the day the new restrictions were introducedKevin Frayer/Getty Images
Beijing smoking ban
A Chinese woman breaks the law on June 1, 2015 by smoking in a prohibited area – a shopping marketKevin Frayer/Getty Images
Beijing smoking ban
A man smokes a cigarette inside a children's hospital in Beijing on 1 June 2015, after the introduction of the banGreg Baker/AFP

Repeat offenders (anyone who breaks the smoking ban in Beijing three times) will be named and shamed on a government website. (A case of "three Lucky Strikes and you're out"?)

China has introduced restrictions on public smoking before, but the fines were minimal, and enforcement is virtually non-existent outside of major cities like Shanghai and Beijing.