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Shenzhen imposes 500-yuan fine in anti-smoking law

By Zhang Yiwei (Global Times)

08:10, May 15, 2013

Residents who smoke in non-smoking public places in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, will face a fine of 500 yuan ($81), according to the revised draft of the city's tobacco-control regulation undergoing a public hearing on Tuesday.

The draft, which lifts the fine for individual infractions from 20 to 500 yuan, also stipulates that business owners who fail to stop smokers will be punished up to 30,000 yuan.

The number of anti-tobacco law enforcement agencies has risen to 12 currently from one in 1998 across several government departments, including police, transport and education.

However, residents have voiced concerns over the rising fines for infractions and the effectiveness of law enforcement.

Wang Ke'an, director of the Beijing-based Thinktank Research Center for Health Development, told the Global Times that heavy fines are necessary, especially for business owners, to stop customers smoking.

The fines are above the standard compared to the 50-yuan fine levied in Guangzhou.

Shenzhen, as a more developed city, is unique in setting such a standard, but in essence, it has the same function as other cities that aim to make heavy fines a deterrent, Yang Gonghuan, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Global Times.

The regulation, effective since 1998, is the first of its kind in the country, however, the 20-yuan fine was never issued during the past 14 years.

"The key points are supervisory channels and information transparency," Yang said, adding that only after there is a system to report violators and officials disclose how the reports are dealt with, can the heavy fine serve its purpose.

When it comes to the 12 law enforcement agencies, Wang said that efficiency would be improved as different agencies watch over their own territories, but it will still be a challenge as to how to guarantee the law will be upheld equally by officers from all 12 agencies.

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