Chinese city spearheads national smoking ban

08:44, September 09, 2010      

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For smoking in offices or rooms of a Karaoke TV entertainment center, one could face a fine of 50 yuan ($7.36), the cost of buying four to five packs of mid-range cigarettes in China. Proprietors or operators of these locations would also be fined from 3,000 yuan ($441.3) to 5,000 yuan ($735.5) for failing to monitor smokers.

The nation' s toughest smoking ban has been enacted by the Guangzhou City authority. Under the Guangzhou Smoking Control Regulation, put into effect on September 1, smoking is strictly banned in the city' s 12 categories of public locations including offices, conference rooms, halls and elevators, while in six other kinds of places such as airports, shopping centers and restaurants with over 75 seats, smoking is to be allowed only in designated areas.

Indivinduals who break the reguation will be fined 50 yuan ($7.36) and businesses not meeting their obligations will be fined up to 30,000 yuan ($441.3).

Beijing's commitment of hosting a "No-smoking Olympics" has inspired Guangzhou, the capital of south China's Guangdong province, to commit itself to a no-smoking promise during the 16th Asian Games which will open on November 12.

But with 2.3 million, or 22.8 percent of its 10 million population being smokers, the host city has found this is not an easy task. "Smokers in Guangzhou are such a massive group. We hope to use the strictest smoking-control bans to make local residents smoke less or even give up cigarettes once and for all," said Yao Rongbin, president of the Smoking-control Association of Guangzhou.

According to the city's "No-smoking Asian Games" commitments, anti-smoking warnings will be posted in all competition venues, gyms and ticket booths.

"The coming Asian Games offered us a superb chance to ensure the building of a healthy and civilized Guangzhou," said Hu Bingjie, a medical care and health department official of the Games' organizing committee.

According to the regulation in Guangzhou, commercial spaces larger than 150 square meters, or having more than 75 seats, may designate an area for smokers.

"Who is the enforcement agency and how do they collect evidence of smoking?" asked a pedestrian on a street, who declined to be identified.

"A quick smoke can take less than one minute. How can a law enforcement officer come in such little time?" asked another person.

Li Li, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the People' s Congress of Guangzhou, the city' s legislature, explained that the ultimate goal of the regulation was not to fine, but to lead smokers to smoke less or stop smoking. "The stress of the regulation is on education and deterrence. Imposing fines is just the means. Later, the amount of the fine might be lifted," said Li.

Jiang Huan, deputy director of China's National Tobacco Control Office(China CDC), said banning smoke nationwide would deal a heavy blow to the tobacco industry.

Nearly one-tenth of the country's tax revenues come from tobacco, which is thought to be the "pillar of the economy" in some provinces and regions.

In addition to Guangzhou, Hangzhou in East China' s Zhejiang province employed 10,000 smoking-control supervisors and volunteers to work in the city' s public places.

On September 5, seven universities in China, including the renowned Peking University and Zhejiang University, announced the establishment of a non-smoking campus.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:王寒露)

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