Net cafes worst offenders under smoking ban

09:05, March 01, 2011      

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Internet cafes and other entertainment venues are the worst places for implementing the city's smoking ban in public places, according to a new report.

The report, released by Shanghai municipal people's congress, the city's legislative body, on Monday, assessed the implementation and main results of the city's first anti-smoking law, which came into effect in March 2010.

According to the municipal's regulation on smoking control in public places, a total of 16 types of public venues - including hospitals, schools, bars, restaurants and hotels - are required to establish designated non-smoking areas and put up signs against smoking.

Individuals who smoke in banned areas will first be warned by supervisors, and then fined 50 to 200 yuan ($7.60 to $30.40) if they refuse to stop.

"The law has produced some good results after a year's implementation," said Li Zhongyang, director of the Shanghai health promotion committee.

"Through the spot-checks and undercover visits, we found fewer people smoking in smoking-free areas compared with the first months after the city enacted its public place smoking control law."

Li added that more than 90 percent of people surveyed welcomed the ban.

The survey, conducted by Shanghai Health Education Institute in September 2010, polled more than 31,000 people in the city's 1,615 smoking-free public venues and found that the smoking rate in these places was 18.6 percent, while it was 37.6 percent about a year ago.

It also found that 54 percent of public venues had put up signs to dissuade patrons from smoking, compared with the previous rate of 45.5 percent.

Meanwhile, 98.4 percent of people said they knew that "tobacco harms health".

"But we also found problems and difficulties with the new law during our inspection," Li added.

The survey found that Internet cafes were the worst offenders under the new law, which imposes a total ban on smoking in Internet cafes.

About 56.8 percent of Internet cafes in Shanghai have ignored the law and allowed patrons to smoke.

The next worst venues were entertainment places at 37.4 percent and restaurants at 32.8 percent.

"Enforcement and supervision of the smoking ban are difficult as smokers can finish smoking and leave the scene long before law enforcement officials arrive," Li said.

"These places will be the focal point of our next program," said Shan Xuewei, an official of Shanghai public safety bureau, noting that the bureau will increase publicity and supervision of Internet cafes and other entertainment venues.

Shanghai's supervision departments inspected more than 212,000 public venues in 2010, and 3,494 places had been found to have various problems with the ban, the report said.

Meanwhile, 12 venues and five individuals have been fined a total of 25,400 yuan for failing to comply with the smoking ban. As well, 67 public transport operators were fined a total of 7,700 yuan.

"Smoking control is a long-term project. It's not easy for someone to quit a habit they have had for many years," said Sun Yunshi, director of the education and health committee of the municipal people's congress.

"We should constantly promote health to residents, helping them to gradually quit the habit."

Source: China Daily(By Wang Hongyi)
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