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Smoke-free? Not exactly

IT'S supposed to be a smoke-free Expo.

The World Expo guide states that lighters and matches are forbidden from the site. It also says smokers shall smoke in designated areas.

But the designated areas are difficult to find. They're neither on a map nor known to many volunteers or staff.

In the confusion, many people smoke around the trash cans, which have caught on fire.

Italian visitor Antonio Ricci, a student and chain smoker, is one among the puzzled.

"I know that lighters are forbidden, so I didn't bring any with me," Ricci told Shanghai Daily. "Then I get into the park just to find people smoking all over the place, yet I have heard from some of friends that the entire Expo is supposed to be smoke free.

"I'm so confused. I haven't seen any smoking areas on the map and I've found nothing on my way walking from Zone C to Zone A. So can I smoke or not? Where and how on the earth??"

He inquired at the information center, asked some pavilion staff, and also tried volunteers. Nobody knew where the legendary smoking areas were.

Ricci ended up borrowing a lighter from a Chinese visitor and joining him and four other smokers near the Expo axis.

Efforts to reach the Expo Bureau for the exact rules and allocation of the designated areas were unsuccessful.

In hopes of clearing the air for the World Expo, the city of Shanghai implemented a regulation in March to ban smoking in 12 types of public places.

Experts said it would be a difficult regulation to implement in China, a nation of 350 million smokers.

The effort hasn't succeeded.

A recent survey from Fudan University reveals that 55 percent of Expo visitors recall that they have seen smokers in non-smoking areas at the Expo site.

Shanghai Daily has interviewed 29 smokers at the Expo.

Nineteen said that they were not aware of the rule to smoke only in designated areas. Eight said they could not find the so-called designated areas. And the other two put out the cigarette and ran away.

Smokers' cigarettes have caused Expo trash cans to smolder. A news article on the Expo official Website on May 14 reported that six trash cans had caught fire to that date.

It is way more than six now. Shanghai Daily has helped put one out near Metro 13. Shanghai Daily asked the nearby volunteer to call a firefighter through their walkie-talkie.

Instead, she calmly went to the smoking trash can with her half-full water bottle.

"It is normal," she said. "This is the third time today."


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