Possible extension of smoking ban 300
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 the number of smokers in China concentration of PM 2.5 inside the smoking rooms were 300 times higher than outside, and the concentration of PM 2.5 in the air 5 meters away from the smoking rooms were 18 times higher than other parts of the station.
“Smoking rooms basically do not effectively protect nonsmokers from passive smoking,” said Zheng.
The draft is proposing for all smoking rooms at railway stations and airports to be moved to outdoor zones instead.
Ye Qing, a legislator, said that such a decision will likely not go down well with smokers considering how flight delays are common and smoking is a popular 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.