The Chinese government has declared a formal ban on smoking in certain public locations, namely restaurants. Although they have attempted to do this in the past, it has never been successful, due in no small part to the lack of effort on the part of the government and the deeply ingrained culture of smoking that exists. As one blog post put it, it would be hard for the typical Chinese to accept the idea of a meal without smoking. This is also true of Chinese business, where the smoking and distribution of cigarettes runs much deeper than addiction; it is a display of courtesy, acceptance, even socioeconomic class.
China has more than 300 million smokers, and annual smoking related deaths account for a fifth of the total deaths worldwide. Will the ban succeed? Doubtful, unless officials are willing to really ruffle some feathers and put force behind the ban. Beijing has asked local leaders to lay out the consequences for disobeying the ban, but this is a situation where it is unlikely that many people will be willing to comply, thus creating great potential for a loss of face on the side of officials. Nope, not going to happen.