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A restaurant in a heavily polluted Chinese city tried charging diners for fresh air

Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

A 21-cents surcharge to breath clean air in one of China’s most polluted cities seemed like a pretty good deal, but diners at a restaurant in Zhangjiagang, were less than impressed and complained to authorities.

After investing in air purification systems to provide clean air in the restaurant in the eastern province of Jiangsu, diners were hit with a 1 yuan (21 cents) surcharge on their bills to cover the cost, according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency.

Zhangjiagang municipality officials officials investigated complaints about the surcharge, and issued the restaurant with a warning, saying air is a natural resource for human survival, and not a commodity to sell.

The South China Morning Post reports that not everyone agreed, with some people taking to Weibo, China’s Twitter, to say they’d happily pay to breath clean air, especially in the wake of last week’s “red alert” for smog in Beijing.

Ironically, restaurants were once of the biggest causes of air pollution in Beijing, especially roadside barbecues, leading to a crackdown by authorities in 2013.

Kitchen exhausts were the third-largest source of air pollution in the capital, leading to a ban on barbecues without purification systems. New restaurants now cannot open now unless they have exhaust filtration systems in place.

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