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A smoke-free success

ZHOU Di, a waitress at a restaurant in the World Expo park, has mixed feelings about the past six months.

As a heavy smoker, Zhou initially found it very difficult to work at the park since strict anti-smoking measures had been enforced.

"I could only smoke in one of the designated areas, but since I was pretty busy at work, I was forced to smoke less," she said.

However, as time passed, the 22-year-old gradually became accustomed to it and reduced her daily intake of cigarettes.

The 2010 Shanghai World Expo is the first of its kind to implement a series of measures to create a smoke-free environment.

These include prohibiting lighters and matches at the Expo park, prohibiting staff from smoking indoors, sending volunteers into the park to discourage visitors and staff from smoking, introducing a no-smoking policy in the pavilions and barring souvenir shops from selling tobacco products.

The organizers of the Expo even declined a 200-million-yuan (US$30 million) sponsorship deal from a tobacco company last July.

Sarah England, who oversees the Tobacco Free Initiative at the World Health Organization in China, said last Thursday at a seminar reviewing tobacco control efforts at the Expo that Shanghai has done a good job in holding a "Smoke-free Expo."

"A Shanghai smoke-free Expo is feasible and even popular," she said.

In fact, the "Smoke-free Expo" is just one part of Shanghai's efforts to control tobacco use in public places.

A newly amended Shanghai Public Places Smoking Control Law came into effect in March this year, prohibiting smoking in several public places including kindergartens, schools, hospitals, stadiums, public-service locations, shopping malls, libraries, theaters and museums. It also imposed fines on individuals or establishments that failed to follow the rules.

One of the world's largest tobacco-producing and consuming nations, China manufactures about 100 billion packets of cigarettes each year. It has a smoking population of 350 million, about one-third of the world's total smoking population.

Sarah England said the smoke-free Expo set a good example and proved that a smoke-free environment could be achieved in China.

"It's a ray of hope for a smoke-free China," she said.


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