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Cigarette smoke won't fly at airport restaurants

NERVOUS fliers now have a tougher time getting in that last nicotine fix before taking off from Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport, and non-smokers are breathing a little easier.

A new anti-smoking campaign bans tobacco use in all restaurants, toilets, offices and other public spaces inside the terminals. Businesses that violate the ban will be fined up to 1,000 yuan (US$147) every time the smell of tobacco smoke or other evidence such as a cigarette butt is discovered on their property.

Bigger, more prominent no-smoking signs began going up last week inside both terminal buildings, airport management said yesterday.

In the past, while smoking was banned in public places at the airport, there was little regulation in restaurants and stores.

The only places where smoking is now allowed are special ventilated rooms, which have been increased from two to five. They are all located past the security check-in.

Airport staff, including immigration and customs officers, may now smoke only in 14 designated areas inside their office areas.

A team of supervisors from airport management has started patrolling the terminal areas, vowing no lenience in the battle to keep the public spaces free of smoke.

Fines threatened

"Given the large passenger flow, it's impossible for the airport management alone to stop people from smoking," Xiang Bin, who works for the airport's administration office, told Shanghai Daily, adding that was why the business operators were enlisted to help in the campaign.

The airport is using a clause in its contract with service providers to enforce the ban. Restaurants and stores are required to help the airport "maintain public safety" and can be fined up to 1,000 yuan if they fail to do so. Allowing people to smoke now presents a threat to "public safety" under the airport's interpretation of the clause.

But even police currently don't have the right to fine those who ignore smoking bans in China, so restaurant managers will have to rely on the power of persuasion to keep people from lighting up.

The city's first law banning smoking in public places is now under discussion by the city's legislators, but it may not hit the books until the end of the year.

In the meantime, the Hongqiao Airport experiment seems to be working, a Shanghai Daily reporter found yesterday when he encountered no one smoking anywhere in the terminals. When the reporter tested the measure by taking out a cigarette inside the Chalon Restaurant, its manager quickly stepped up to persuade him not to smoke. She also reminded other diners to obey the no-smoking signs on the tables.

Guo Sumei, a tobacco store worker, said that business also tells people who buy cigarettes to smoke only in designated areas at the airport.


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