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Guangzhou stubs out on Saturday
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14:56, May 29, 2008

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Retailers in this city have been told to refrain from selling tobacco products on Saturday to mark World No Tobacco Day.

A survey by the Guangzhou Tobacco Control Association shows the city has about 1.68 million smokers, 20 percent of whom are middle school students.

The association and the city's Patriotic Health Committee said the request includes department stores and street stalls. They must all display a notice: No sales of tobacco products today.

"Several government departments are cooperating," Zhu Shunxian, vice-director of the Patriotic Health Committee, said.

"Any person that violates the ban will receive a warning," Zhu said.

Currently, there is no law that bans the sale of tobacco products or smoking in the city, but it is believed Guangzhou's move sets a good example for other cities to follow.

"We hope this will increase people's awareness of the harm tobacco can cause and the importance of abstaining from smoking," an official of the committee surnamed Wu said.

A cigarette vendor surnamed Cai said: "I haven't received any notice about not selling cigarettes on Saturday, but if this is true, I will certainly cooperate."

Chen Zhiduan, who has smoked for decades, said it was difficult for him to give up smoking, but the government's move was useful. It could prevent young people from becoming addicted.

"The move is telling people that smoking is not encouraged by the whole society," he said.

This is the first step in Guangzhou's prohibition of tobacco.

As the host city of the 2010 Asian Games, Guangzhou is trying to learn from Beijing and hold a green event.

"Banning smoking in public places is an important and effective way," Yao Rongbin, director of the Guangzhou Tobacco Control Association, said.

Yao said the municipal government is striving to enact a law to ban smoking in public places before the Asian Games.

The association has invited many experts from home and abroad for advice on the law.

Beijing has banned smoking in some designated public places since the beginning of this month.

The public places include gymnasiums, cinemas, bars, restaurants and hotels.

Source: China Daily

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