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June 1, 2010

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Home » Metro » Environment

Smoking edict results in just one fine, so far

AN Internet cafe has become the city's first and the only punished offender for violating the tobacco control law that took effect March 1. The penalty: a 2,000 yuan (US$293) fine.

Police caught three men smoking during a spot check of the Shanghai Baochen Network Co cafe on Nanwei Road, Baoshan District, on March 22. Police warned the smokers and asked the staff to stop customers from lighting up as their responsibility under the new law.

During another check at the same place on April 18, the police once again caught people smoking - two men, this time - while the cafe's staff looked on.

The cafe's operator, a man surnamed Zhen, said the staff failed to stop the smokers because they didn't want to lose their customers.

According to Hu Shunkang, party committee member of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, the police carried out spot checks at 500 Internet cafes in April.

They stopped about 800 offenders and issued warnings to 60 cafes to take action against smoking.

Overall in the last three months, police made spot checks of 18,328 public venues. Police issued orders to adopt rectification measures in 559 places; 476 of them have already passed a second check. Sixty-five venues received a warning from the police for violating the law.

There have been signs of improvement, police said: A recent survey showed the percentage of people smoking in the non-smoking areas dropping to 28 percent from 37 percent. About 33 percent more people are taking initiative to stop smokers.

However, enforcing the law remains a problem.

Yesterday, an inspection team accompanied by local lawmakers and reporters saw a young man run away when the team caught him smoking at an Internet cafe.

During yesterday's inspection, the legislative members found that some restaurants are exploiting a weakness in the law by setting aside only a very small room for a non-smoking area, leaving the rest open for smoking.

They suggested making the law more specific, such as stipulating the size of non-smoking areas.


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