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March 2, 2017

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Blanket smoking ban takes effect, and citizens turning off cigarettes

THE total ban on smoking in indoor public places across the city came into force yesterday, as new figures show fewer people are smoking.

The Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission annual report released yesterday said the number of people smoking in public fell 4.6 percentage points to 8.5 percent last year.

The report, based on a survey of 34,400 people in 1,796 public places found 78 percent of those surveyed were aware of the smoking ban and 95 percent of those supported it and pledged to observe it.

Most public smoking was in Internet cafes — 34.4 percent; entertainment venues, 26.7 percent; and, restaurants, 15.2 percent.

By the end of last year, 23.3 percent of residents between 15 and 69 smoked, down 3.6 percentage points from 2010.

The survey found 46.8 percent of men smoked, compared with just 2 percent of women.

Shanghai has had a limited ban on public smoking since 2010, but the regulation covered only certain spaces such as schools and libraries.

The new rule expands the restrictions to all public indoor areas and some outdoor ones.

Commission chief Wu Jinglei said the data showed the city had come a long way since the limited ban was introduced in 2010, but there were still serious challenges.

“The total ban on indoor smoking is a milestone in our efforts on smoking control,” he said.

Authorities are conducting widespread inspections, focussing on places where smoking is popular.

Week-long crackdowns will continue in April and May. Thousands of volunteers around the city are also reporting violations.

In Pudong’s Nanmatou subdistrict, a woman surnamed Ni who has been working as a volunteer on smoking control for two years, said she expects the effort to be stepped up and to cover more venues.

“Internet cafes remain the largest headache because customers there usually spend hours and hours in them, Ni said.

“It’s impossible for the inspectors and volunteers to stay there all day long to keep an eye on smoking offenders,” she said.

“But still, due to our effort, the smoking rate there has dropped over the years.”

On Changde Road near Changshou Road in Putuo District yesterday, with many small restaurants, only a few have placed signs saying “smoking area outside.”

At a noodle restaurant called Chunhe, a man walked in smoking and was asked by a waitress to smoke outside.

But the waitresses say many customers refuse to listen.

Offenders can be fined up to 200 yuan (U$30) and restaurant owners can be fined up to 20,000 yuan for failing to enforce the ban.

The Health Promotion Commission encourages all residents to dissuade people smoking in indoor public places and to call in management when they see it happening.

Citizens can call 12345 to report offenders.

By 4pm yesterday, the hotline had received 295 complaints from the public regarding smoking indoors in public places, and most illegal smokers were found in restaurants, restrooms in business buildings.

China has long said it plans to ban smoking nationwide. In November, government health spokesman Mao Qunan had indicated measures would be rolled out across the country by the end of last year.

In June 2015, Beijing adopted the toughest anti-smoking legislation in the country, banning smoking in offices, restaurants, hotels and hospitals.

The southern city of Shenzhen did similar in 2014.


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