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Restaurants fail passive smoke test

By Yin Yeping (Global Times)

08:15, September 21, 2012

An environmental protection NGO issued a report Thursday highlighting the continuing problem of secondhand smoke in indoor public areas.

The report was released by Beijing-based NGO Green Beagle, who hope to draw attention to the continuing problem of smoking in public areas.

Wang Qiuxia, a researcher at Green Beagle, said they visited 43 restaurants in the capital with an air monitoring device to measure levels of PM2.5 (particulate matter) pollution. The names of the restaurants were not revealed.

The results reveal that in the majority of the restaurants surveyed, PM2.5 levels exceeded the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO) by 14 times. The WHO level for PM2.5 is 10 micrograms per cubic meter, while that found in the restaurants was on average over 140 micrograms per cubic meter.

"We issued the report to raise public awareness of not smoking in public areas as well as to provide evidence for anti-smoking legislation," Wang said.

Cui Xiaobo, professor of the Health Management and Education Institute of Capital Medical University who helped draft a national anti-smoking law for public areas in 2008, said the law has not functioned well since then.

"One reason for this is there are not enough law enforcers to cover the whole city these days," he said.

"Another reason is that the current law states that only the administrators of the public venues will be punished instead of the smokers too," Cui noted.

It is absolutely prohibited to smoke in public venues such as health and education facilities and on public transportation in Beijing, said Cui.

"But places like restaurants are allowed to have smoking sections and therefore are not 100 percent smoke-free," he said.

Li Qiang, a research scientist of the China tobacco control office, said that regulations from the Ministry of Health and the municipal health bureau are different, which also causes problems.

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