A restaurant in the Chinese city of Zhangjiagang has been caught charging customers a “clean-air fee” after it installed an air-filtering system in response to the blankets of thick smog that have shrouded the city in recent weeks.
The owner decided to place the burden of the cost on customers by charging them 1 yuan ($0.15) on top of their bill, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua reports.
Local authorities say that charging customers for breathing is illegal, and the charges have stopped. However, the BBC reports that many users of Weibo, a popular microblogging service, have since expressed support for the fee because of the country’s notoriously bad air.
China’s pollution regularly garners world headlines. The nation’s capital Beijing issued its first red alert for smog in early December. Breathing Beijing’s air, the Economist reports, could cause as much damage as smoking around 40 cigarettes per day.
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