The mainland introduced its toughest curbs yet on indoor smoking in Beijing yesterday, sending more than 1,000 inspectors to enforce the ban on lighting up in public areas. But its implementation in restaurants remained uneven. A hotpot restaurant owned by popular chain Haidilao was the first business caught breaching the ban, according to the news website Sina.com. A branch was found to have failed to publicise the hotline to report offenders, and cigarette butts were found in its toilet, the report said. The business faces a fine of at least 2,000 yuan (HK$2,530) if it does not address the problems. Under Beijing's new regulations, smoking is banned in restaurants, offices, on public transport and in any public place with a ceiling. Lighting up in open areas near schools and hospitals is also banned. Offenders face fines of 200 yuan, a sharp increase from the previous 10 yuan penalty. Those who break the rules three times will be named and shamed on city government websites. Restaurants also face fines of up to 10,000 yuan for failing to stop people from smoking indoors. Anti-tobacco advocates have welcomed the move, but some doubt the new rules will be effectively enforced. Internet users said they saw people smoking in office buildings and railway stations without being stopped yesterday. At lunchtime, the South China Morning Post visited seven restaurants along Guijie, Beijing's popular downtown dining street. Waiters in two restaurants allowed people to smoke inside. "Of course it's OK to smoke … I haven't heard about the smoking ban," one waiter said. Diners at a branch of a popular restaurant chain that serves Sichuan cuisine were seen smoking at the table as they enjoyed their spicy crayfish dish. A manager of the restaurant said "no smoking" signs were being printed and would be put up "later". Other restaurants said they had started enforcing the rule. "We no longer provide ashtrays and lighters. We have also stopped selling cigarettes," said one restaurant manager. "If the guests want to smoke, we ask them to do so outdoors." The mainland has more than 300 million smokers, official statistics show, and another 740 million people are exposed to second-hand smoke each year. This is not the first time Beijing has issued a smoking ban. In 2011, the Ministry of Health published guidelines banning smoking in "indoor public spaces", but the rules were criticised for being vague and not enforced.