Beijing sees 2,719 fined over smoke ban
More than 2,700 people in Beijing have received fines for illegal public smoking since the city introduced China’s toughest tobacco control regulation 18 months ago.
A total of 2,719 people were fined a total of 142,500 yuan ($20,700) between June 1 last year, when the regulation took effect, and Nov 30 this year, the Beijing Commission of Health and Family Planning, the city’s top health authority, announced on Tuesday.
Health law enforcement officers also levied total fines of more than 1.8 million yuan on 663 premises’ owners for failing to apply the regulation, the commission said.
“We have maintained intensified efforts in the fight against illegal public smoking in the past year and a half,” said Wang Benjin, deputy chief of the Beijing Health Inspection Bureau.
More than 1,000 officers from the bureau, a primary force for health law enforcement in Beijing, inspected more than 127,000 business owners since June 1 last year, and stopped 5,300 people from smoking in public places, he said.
The regulation bans smoking in all indoor public areas and workplaces, and a number of outdoor areas, including schools, seating areas in sports stadiums and hospitals where women or children are treated.
Violators face fines of up to 200 yuan ($32), while owners of buildings classified as public places, such as restaurants, face fines of up to 10,000 yuan if they allow people to smoke on their premises, the regulation states.
The percentage of people found smoking in public places had been reduced from 11.3 percent before the regulation to 3.8 percent at the end of last year, the commission said.
Entertainment venues such as internet cafes, karaoke TV rooms and restaurants are still the venues where illegal public smoking is most likely to occur, according to a survey conducted by Beijing’s health authorities in October and November, which was released on Tuesday. The survey found that more than 40 percent of internet cafes were found to contain cigarette butts.
The survey also found that 73 percent of taxis in Beijing do not have “no smoking” signs, and nearly one-quarter of taxi drivers allow passengers to smoke in their vehicle.
With temperatures dropping in Beijing, the number of people smoking in indoor public places may increase. The city’s health authorities will intensify law enforcement over the next few months to prevent a resurgence of illegal public smoking, said Mei Hongguang, an official with the commission’s health promotion department.