BEIJING (AP) _ Drug stores are halting their decades-old practice of giving free contraceptives to any adult who wants them, the city's leading newspaper said today.

The Beijing Daily said the handouts have helped China's efforts to slow growth of its 1 billion population, but also have caused major waste.

Although drug stores will begin selling contraceptives at the producer's price, the newspaper said, work units will continue to distribute free contraceptives.

China's strict birth control policy limits most couples to one child, and people's work units and neighborhood committees in urban areas ensure the limit is observed.