Pos­si­ble ex­ten­sion of smok­ing ban

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Shang­hai’s leg­isla­tive body is look­ing to ban smok­ing at all pub­lic in­door venues in an at­tempt to bet­ter shield non­smok­ers from sec­ond­hand smoke.

Other lo­ca­tions in­cluded in the draft of the amended reg­u­la­tion on smok­ing con­trol are a greater num­ber of out­door places such as arts per­for­mance and sport­ing venues, open ar­eas at ma­ter­nity and in­fant hos­pi­tals as well as crowded bus stops.

The Mu­nic­i­pal Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Peo­ple’s Congress, the city’s leg­isla­tive body, is seek­ing pub­lic ad­vice for the draft till Aug 19.

China is the world’s largest con­sumer and pro­ducer of tabacco. There are more than 300 mil­lion smok­ers in the coun­try, ac­count­ing for al­most one-third of the world’s to­tal, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The reg­u­la­tion on smok­ing con­trol first took ef­fect in 2010 and it per­mit­ted smok­ing in des­ig­nated ar­eas in restau­rants, en­ter­tain­ment venues, rail­way sta­tions and air­ports. How­ever, ex­perts have found that the air around these des­ig­nated smok­ing ar­eas still con­tain high amounts of PM 2.5 par­ti­cles, a sub­stance pro­duced from smok­ing that can cause can­cer.

Zheng Pin­pin, a re­searcher with the To­bacco Con­trol Re­search Cen­ter of Fu­dan Uni­ver­sity, mon­i­tored the con­cen­tra­tion of PM 2.5 at South Shang­hai Rail­way Sta­tion and Shang­hai Rail­way Sta­tion last year and found the con­cen­tra­tion of such par­ti­cles in the air both in and out of the smok­ing rooms to be ex­tremely high.

Ac­cord­ing to Zheng, the way to pass the time.

“Smok­ing isn’t like tak­ing drugs. The rights and in­ter­ests of smok­ers should also be guarded un­der the con­di­tion that they don’t af­fect the health of oth­ers,” he said.

Many In­ter­net users ap­plauded the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions but some are con­cerned about how they will be im­ple­mented.

“Once, at a wed­ding ban­quet, three men who were at the same ta­ble as me smoked de­spite the fact that there were three tod­dlers around. It’s a longestab­lished tra­di­tion to smoke dur­ing a Chi­nese wed­ding ban­quet. It could be very dif­fi­cult to carry out the ban,” said Xin Lu, a Shang­hai na­tive and a fa­ther to a two-year-old girl.

The pro­posed draft is also task­ing the health au­thor­ity to fine of­fend­ers. For ex­am­ple, those caught pro­vid­ing ash­trays or per­mit­ting smok­ing in­doors could be fined a max­i­mum of 30,000 yuan ($4,500), while er­rant smok­ers could be slapped with fines up to 200 yuan.

A Sina Weibo user who goes by the name “Xiaochi­lao” pointed out that author­i­ties could con­sider im­ple­ment­ing mea­sures sim­i­lar to those in down­town Tokyo where law en­forcers with arm­bands are on the con­stant look­out for of­fend­ers.

Some smok­ers have also said that rais­ing the prices of cig­a­rettes could be an ef­fec­tive way to dis­cour­age peo­ple from pick­ing up smok­ing.

“The gov­ern­ment can col­lect high taxes on cig­a­rettes. If a pack of cig­a­rettes costs 80 yuan in­stead of 10 yuan, I be­lieve many will think twice about smok­ing any­where and at any­time,” said Wang Cong, the owner of a pri­vate en­ter­prise in Shang­hai.

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