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March 1, 2011

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

City to be smoke-free ... in 50 years

EVEN though fewer people are smoking in public places since a ban was introduced a year ago, it could take 50 years to make Shanghai smoke-free, a lawmaker admitted yesterday.

According to the first annual report on the city's anti-smoking campaign, people were found smoking in 18.6 percent of non-smoking areas, a huge drop from 37.5 percent before the ban.

And smokers were persuaded to stub out in just over half of the city's non-smoking areas, compared with just under 19 percent before.

But Sun Shiyun, a local lawmaker, said the campaign had not achieved the reductions hoped for. "It's a difficult task to suddenly change people's habits."

"It will take a long time, maybe 50 years, to realize our original goal of smoke-free public venues," claimed Sun.

Shanghai's smoking ban applies to 12 types of public places, including schools, hospitals, supermarkets, elevators and karaoke bars. Individual offenders face a fine ranging from 50 yuan (US$7.60) to 200 yuan.

In the past 12 months, 12 public venues and five individuals have been punished for breaking the smoking ban. They were fined 25,400 yuan in total. The five offenders, including a doctor, were caught in Internet cafes and hospitals.

Internet cafes have a poor record of implementing the ban, said the report, as most managers are reluctant to tackle smokers, fearing it will affect their business.

Zhu Yaoren, deputy director of the Shanghai Culture Inspection Team, said the same problems exist in restaurants. "It's hard to get the evidence," said Zhu.

Moreover, the Shanghai Public Places Smoking-Control Law fails to stipulate what the proportion between smoking and non-smoking areas should be. Consequently, many venues allow smoking in most areas, with the ban enforced in a few corners.

Li Ming, vice president of the Shanghai Bar Association, who participated in drafting the law, admitted its implementation is weak.

He proposed "smoking permitted" signs should be used, making it clear where it was acceptable to smoke.

The anti-smoking campaign had its biggest success at last year's World Expo, where no one was found smoking in the 200-plus pavilions. More than 90 percent of visitors supported the ban, said the report.

Li Zhongyang, an official in charge of the anti-smoking campaign, told Shanghai Daily that they would extend some of the measures taken at the six-month Expo.

According to Sun, schools, government departments, entertainment venues and restaurants will be the main targets of inspection this year. He added that cigarette advertisements affected enforcement and called for health warnings to be located more prominently on cigarette packets.


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