Enforcing smoking ban, easier said than done

16:11, March 25, 2011      

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It's dinner time in a small restaurant in Chengdu and, like every other day, the air is thick with cigarette smoke.

After wiping his mouth, Wang Jian, a 30-year-old office worker dining in the capital of China's southwestern Sichuan Province, draws a cigarette from its box, lights it and inhales deeply.

"It's forbidden to smoke in the office," Wang says. "But here I can smoke and relax."

The province will soon implement a regulation which bans smoking in kindergartens, primary and middle schools, maternity and children's health care centers, libraries, public transportation vehicles and other public places.

The regulation, effective from May 1, also specifies which authorities are responsible for enforcing the ban and sets fines for violators.

While restaurants are not on the list, the regulation does mention that the "food and drug administrative authorities should be responsible for tobacco control in restaurants."

"Control? How?" complains Zhang Junfeng, the owner of a restaurant in Shaguoju City of Sichuan. "Look, there are so many customers and our work is very busy. Besides, this is just a small restaurant, too small to divide into smoking and non-smoking sections."

In the 12th Five-year Plan, China has promised to ban smoking in public places "in an all-around manner."

Including an anti-smoking measure for the first time in its Five-year Plan demonstrates China's resolution to fight public tobacco use.

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