BEIJING • Wang Yuan's reputation and career are in danger of going up in smoke.
The singer in Chinese boy band TFBoys was recently photographed smoking in a Beijing restaurant, with the hashtag Wang Yuan Smoking, drawing 1.4 billion clicks on Weibo on Tuesday.
Wang, 18, who was seen as a top teen icon before the smoking incident, will be "punished according to the law", a statement from the Beijing Health Supervision Authority said.
Smoking is banned in public indoor spaces in China.
His career is now at risk of stalling as the authorities are known for cracking down hard on inappropriate celebrity behaviour, from sporting tattoos to male artists wearing earrings.
Wang, who faces a danger of being blacklisted by the entertainment industry, has issued an apology on Weibo where he has nearly 73 million followers.
"This incident has made me reflect deeply on my own behaviour and I am very sorry and embarrassed about the adverse social impact that I have created," he posted. "I hope nobody will follow my wrongful actions. I apologise again and I will take this as a lesson to become a better person."
While many of his fans are willing to give him a second chance, others note that he has not walked the talk of trying to be a role model.
According to Global Times, Wang also apologised in December last year for jumping over a safety fence by the side of the road, begging the question of whether he is sincere in leading by example.