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Game parlors and dance halls flout smoking ban

GAME parlors and dance halls in Shanghai are not doing enough to ban smoking, according to a survey released yesterday, World No Tobacco Day.

Under local smoking regulations, smoking is banned on such premises but the survey found that over half of those questioned had seen people smoking in game parlors and dance halls within the previous month.

More than 52 percent of correspondents in the survey, carried out by the Shanghai Anti-Smoking Association of the Shanghai Health Bureau, also called for restaurants and hotels to be included in the smoking control rules.

Local health officials said the Shanghai People's Congress has put Shanghai's first anti-smoking law on this year's agenda.

"That means the law must be issued before the year end," said Zhang Liqiang, director of Shanghai Health Education Institute and a member of the law drafting team. "It is a big victory for smoking control battle in the city."

In order to study local people's understanding of smoking control and to collect information for the new law, the Shanghai Anti-Smoking Association interviewed 4,030 residents in the city.

About 65.5 percent of correspondents said they had never smoked, 24.7 percent were smokers and 9.8 percent said they had quit the habit.

People in the customer service industry, those in the transport industry and staff at entertainment venues had the highest percentage of smokers or former smokers, the survey found.

Shanghai first issued a rule banning smoking at public places in 1994. Hospitals, schools, large stores and indoor stadiums were included. By 2007, there were 9,834 venues covered by the rule.

However, hotels and restaurants weren't included and the regulation lacked penalties for smokers who broke the rules.

The current rule has problems such as the small number of venues covered, lack of penalties and no ban on tobacco advertisements, officials said.

According to the survey, 80 percent of correspondents said they knew about the current rule and places which ban smoking. Over 90 percent said they hadn't seen people smoke in places such as museums and schools in the past month while that wasn't the case with dance halls and game parlors.

Officials said public education on the dangers of smoking should be included in the new law.

"The survey found many smokers thought low-tar cigarettes or very light cigarettes were less harmful. It is a misconception," Zhang said.


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