2,000 venues break laws on no-smoking

10:49, May 11, 2010      

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Almost 2,000 indoor public venues have been found breaking the city's new no-smoking rules, an investigation has revealed.

Approximately 1,149 of these establishments, including restaurants, cafes, schools, banks and office buildings, were cautioned and told to comply.

The Beijing municipal health bureau conducted the inspection from January to September with officers visiting 78,598 indoor public venues.

During the public inspection, approximately 8,521 smokers were told to stop smoking in public.

In September, 375 establishments were found breaking the rules of smoking ban after the health supervision department inspected about 13,000 public venues.

Liu Zejun, a spokesman from the Beijing government department involved in the campaign, said many establishments didn't have ashtrays available in smoking area, and in non-smoking areas anti-smoking warning signs were not clear and distinct.

Officials from Beijing municipal health bureau said the current regulations on smoking control should be further improved, and the level of fines should be raised.

Another Beijing government spokesman said the city will soon toughen fines for restaurants and cafes where the smokers are most densely gathered.

Meanwhile, it will launch a "smoke-free family" campaign to let more smokers quit the unhealthy habit.

So far, more than 1,000 anti-smoking supervisors have been trained and will be sent to local communities to give public education and guidance on how to quit smoking.

Currently, the penalty for individuals found smoking in banned areas is just 10 yuan ($1.5) and for venues the penalties range from 1,000 to 5,000 yuan.

In a recent survey, more than 70 percent of Beijing residents say the current fines "too weak to have a clout".

Locals believe the government should increase fines for establishments if they fail to prevent smokers from lighting up cigarettes.

"It is an important and effective way to help ban smoking. The 10-yuan fine is an insignificant amount for many smokers. Only harsher penalties can make people know what they are doing," said Liu Guanghai, a manager Sichuan cuisine restaurant.

A new draft legislation for Beijing proposes penalties of up to 40,000 yuan for an establishment that fails to prevent smoking. Individuals could receive fines 200 to 1,000 yuan.

It also proposed that smoking should be banned in all enclosed public venues.

The draft will be finished by the end of the year, and then sent to Beijing municipal people's congress for a decision.

Source: China Daily


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