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Fresh air by the bottle? China’s smog-hit population buy into the idea, it seems

How much are people in smog-hit China prepared to pay for some fresh air?

At least 219 yuan (HK$246) for a 7.7 litre bottle of “pure, hand bottled, pollution free, oxygen-rich air from New Zealand” – which works out as 1.2 yuan per breath, mainland media reported.

The fresh air offered by the bottle by about half a dozen online retailers is become a “thriving business” as people struggle with choking smog in the northern areas of the country this winter, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

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The report, which appears to be genuine, said retailers were selling “unpolluted air” from New Zealand and Canada in bottles, which even come with breathing masks attached.

Prices of bottled air varied according to their place of origin, the report said.

A 7.7-litre bottle of “pure, hand bottled, pollution free and oxygen rich air from New Zealand” normally costs 699 yuan, but thanks to a hefty discount it is being sold for 219 yuan per bottle.

The worked out at 1.2 yuan per breath because the retailer said each bottle contained enough fresh air for the buyer to take at least 180 gulps, the report said.

At least two bottles of the New Zealand air have been bought in the past month.

Another 7.2-litre bottle of “Vitality Air”, reportedly collected in Canada, costs a mere 108 yuan.

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Retailers are offering an even cheaper alternative – a bottle of air collected in the coastal city of Weihai, in eastern Shandong province, which costs only 5 yuan.

“No smog, absolutely pure air,” one online retail store’s advert read. “[Sourced] from the sea or the mountain, options available at no extra charge.”

Customers living in the nation’s heavily polluted area are being offered big discounts.

Those people living in Beijing, which reportedly suffers from the worst pollution, could be offered discounts of up to 75 per cent on the normal price of the bottled air, while people in other areas can expect to receive discounts of up to 50 per cent, the report said.

One customer, who bought a bottle of Vitality Air, posted a comment on a retailer’s website , which said: “I don’t feel much different [after breathing the air].”