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Smoke-ban law may come next year

THE city's first smoking-control law is expected to be issued in January at the annual meeting of the Shanghai People's Congress, the director of Shanghai Smoking Control Office told a conference yesterday, banning smoking from public places in time for next year's Expo.

Zhang Liqiang, director of Shanghai Smoking Control Office, said medical experts and health officials are doing final preparation on the draft of the smoking-control law, the first on China's mainland, which will ban smoking in all indoor public venues, public transport and work places.

"We don't want to allow the establishment of smoking and non-smoking areas in public areas in the draft but a complete ban on smoking in these places. However, the draft version is still under discussion and there may be alterations," Zhang told the conference on anti-smoking legislation hosted by China's biggest environmental group, the All-China Environment Protection Association, which is holding these conferences in seven cities, starting with Shanghai.

Zhang said the penalty for people who smoke in banned areas is still being discussed.

A law should usually be discussed three times by the Shanghai People's Congress and Zhang plans to have the smoking-control law discussed in August, October and at the end of this year. If the process runs smoothly, the law is likely to be issued at its annual session next year.

Officials said the law will help make Expo smoke-free when it starts in May next year.

"The World Health Organization hailed the idea of a smoke-free Expo and will help promote the concept by holding an international smoking control meeting in the city before the fair," Zhang said.

Shanghai issued a rule - not a law - banning smoking in some public places in 1994 and amended it in 1997. That rule bans smoking from hospitals, schools and kindergartens, indoor stadiums and stores over 200 square meters. By 2007 the ban covered 9,834 venues.

However, the ban does not cover restaurants and many other public places, such as hotels, and there is no penalty for smokers who ignore the ban.


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