Beijing has cut the number of firework stores for the upcoming Spring Festival and will ban sales if serious air pollution is forecast, the city's work safety watchdog said on Friday. The number of firework outlets in the capital has been reduced from 1,337 in 2013 to 1,178 this year, or down 12 percent, said the Beijing Work Safety Bureau. The number of outlets which open year-round has also been reduced from 75 in 2013 to 60 this year, it added. This is the second consecutive year Beijing has cut the number of firework shops, a move believed to reduce air pollution, as the city has encountered frequent rounds of smoggy weather since January 2013. Beijing will halt the distribution, transport and sale of fireworks if orange or red alerts for serious air pollution are issued. Residents will be banned from setting off firecrackers when there is heavily polluted weather. The Lunar New Year falls on Jan. 31. Firework sales begin on Jan. 25 and end on Feb. 14 in Beijing. The city will also pilot the sale of environmentally friendly fireworks, which contain no sulphur and produce less smoke but are priced slightly higher than conventional ones, according to the city's office on fireworks and firecrackers. The Chinese have a tradition of celebrating the Lunar New Year with firecrackers and fireworks, hoping the noise can fend off evil spirits and bad luck. The spree usually starts on the eve of the new year and ends on Lantern Festival, or the fifteenth day of the first month according to the lunar calendar. It often leads to a sharp jump in the density of PM2.5, airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns.