China / Society

Beijing's tobacco control efforts now bearing fruit

By Wang Xiaodong (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-14 08:18

More than 1,700 individuals and establishments in Beijing have been penalized for violating the city's tobacco control regulation since it came into effect in June, according to Beijing's top health authority.

By the end of March, Beijing's health authorities had issued 7,193 notices to premises and imposed penalties on 376 of them for failing to rectify problems, Zheng Jinpu, an official at the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, said on Wednesday.

In addition, law enforcement officers imposed fines on 1,331 people by the end of March for violating the regulation, with total fines on owners and individuals reaching 1.05 million yuan ($162,000), he said.

The regulation bans smoking at all indoor public areas and workplaces and a number of outdoor areas.

Violators face fines of up to 200 yuan, a 20-fold increase from fines within the previous regulation adopted in 1996. Owners of buildings classified as public places, such as restaurants, that fail to stop smokers lighting up face fines of up to 10,000 yuan.

Nine months after the adoption of the regulation, the number of complaints filed by residents through the city's public service hotline - 12320 - decreased to about 40 a day from around 1,000 initially, Zheng said.

Smoking in public places has decreased since the regulation was introduced, and the number of cigarettes sold in Beijing last year decreased by 2.7 percent compared with the previous year, he said.

Zhao Wenzhi, deputy director of the Beijing Tobacco Monopoly Administration, said the administration has been reducing the number of tobacco outlets within 100 meters of schools, and has persuaded 265 owners to close shop since June. It will not issue new permits or renew permits for such cigarette shops, he said.

"However, Beijing still faces severe challenges in tobacco control, due to the traditional tobacco and wine culture, frequent population flow and the large number of smokers in the city," Zheng said.

More than 4 million people in the capital smoke, accounting for nearly a quarter of the adult population.

To improve supervision, the Beijing People's Congress will have its first enforcement inspection since mid-April, Hu Heng, an inspector at the congress, said on Wednesday.

Inspectors will check whether government departments have done their duty in supervising tobacco control, she said.

China has more than 300 million smokers, the largest smoking population in the world. More than 1 million people die as a result of tobacco-related diseases every year, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

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