The pollution in China has been really bad over the past couple of years. But this year, the choking haze is even worse — so much so that a restaurant decided to charge its customers for clean air.
A café in Zhangjiagang city, Jiangsu province, began charging diners extra money — 15 cents — a surcharge referred to as the “air cleaning fee.”
Patrons filed a complaint with the city's consumer pricing bureau. According to the South China Morning Post, the owner defended his decision, saying the establishment installed an air filtration to improve the customer experience and had to cover the additional cost.
"Since customers haven't asked to purchase 'purified air,' the restaurant owner couldn't sell clean air as a commodity," CCTV News noted.
Local government later stated that charging customers for breathing is illegal. The fee has been dropped.
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The news comes almost a week after Beijing's city government issued its first red alert for pollution. Schools and construction sites were closed and the number of cars on the road was restricted.
Last year, Chinese scientists compared the toxic haze to a “nuclear winter” that has started slowing down photosynthesis in plants which is the process of making food or energy from light.
“If the smog persists, Chinese agriculture will suffer conditions somewhat similar to a nuclear winter,” stated an associate professor at China’s Agricultural University’s College of Water Resources & Civil Engineering.