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August 6, 2020

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No butt of joke but market hit with maximum smoking violation fine

A flower and bird market in Minhang District was slapped with a fine of 30,000 yuan (US$4,286) for violating Shanghai’s smoking-control regulations, the first time a maximum fine has been imposed since the regulations took effect in 2017, local health authorities said.

The Minhang health supervision agency began investigating the Hongqiao Flower and Bird Market’s underground stores in April after a local television station exposed smoking-control management violations.

The market had no “No Smoking” signs in its underground public area, and cigarette butts were spotted on the ground. Officials even found ashtrays with butts in the market’s management areas.

“Having cigarette butts in public areas means the property-management staff didn’t prevent smoking, and the absence of “No Smoking” signs and prevalence of ashtrays in management areas means the market authority failed to follow the city’s smoking-control regulations,” said Liu Minji of the Minhang Health Supervision Agency. “The regulation bans smoking in all indoor public spaces, indoor working spaces and public transportation, and requires the property authority to shoulder the responsibility for smoking control.”

Liu said the maximum fine of 30,000 yuan was levied because the market was fined 2,500 yuan last year for not following smoking-control regulations related to ashtrays in public areas.

“It is a repeat violation this time,” Liu said. “According to the regulations, we can impose a fine of between 20,000 and 30,000 yuan. Considering the negative social influence, we decided to go for the maximum punishment.”

Officials said the market started complying after the most recent ticket was issued. It has installed smoking-ban signs in public places and told staff and customers to smoke only in designated areas.

“The market informed all its 1,300 store owners to strictly follow the smoking-control regulations and instructed security to monitor the market,” Liu said. “The store operators are being cooperative and now only smoke in the three designated smoking areas.”

According to the Minhang government, the district checked more than 16,000 public venues in the first half of 2020, fining 33 of them as well as 13 individuals.

More public education about the adverse health effects of smoking is in the offing, officials said.

Since the smoking-control regulations went into effect, the smoking rate of local adults has dropped from 26.85 percent in 2010 to 19.7 percent in 2019. Shanghai is the first Chinese provincial region with a smoking rate lower than 20 percent. However, violations persist in restaurants, entertainment venues and office buildings. More targeted campaigns are under consideration.

Fines for violating the regulations range from 2,000 to 30,000 yuan for businesses and 50 to 200 yuan for individuals.


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