Restaurants aren’t giving out as many freebies as they used to—gratis refills on coffee and even pre-dinner bread have gotten scarcer. One thing most of us take for granted when going out to eat though, is that the air we breath will be included with the meal. That’s was not the case at one restaurant in Zhangjiangang city in China’s Jiangsu Province.
According to a report from China’s Xinhua news agency, the restaurant installed an air purification system and added a mandatory 15 cent fee on to everyone’s bill. Customers, upset with the non-negotiable charge, complained to the local government who deemed the fee illegal. According to a city official, “it wasn’t the diners’ choice to breath filtered air, so it could not be sold as a commodity.”
The charge certainly sounds ridiculous, but the need for an air filtration system is not. China has some of the worst air in the world. Last week in Beijing officials put out the first ever “red alert” for air quality. It got so bad that reports came in of discomfort from simply standing outside in the blanket of smog and breathing. Admittedly Beijing is almost 700 miles from Zhangjiangang city, but Shanghai, Zhangjiangang’s neighbor to the east, often looks like it’s got a permanent sepia filter on it.
The restaurant has reportedly dropped the 15 cent fee but who knows, maybe this is the beginning of a whole new sort of smoking section when you go out.