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Legislation targets risky behaviour by children
(Shanghai Star)
Updated: 2004-12-05 09:33

Alcohol and cigarette sales to minors will become illegal in Shanghai next March, thanks to a child protection regulation passed by the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress on November 25.

The 24th clause in the regulation prohibits smoking or alcohol-drinking in places minors frequent and requires shops that sell cigarettes or alcohol to put up signs in conspicuous places announcing the ban.

The new regulation forbids anyone to ask minors to buy cigarettes or alcohol for them. The original draft prohibited only parents or guardians from this activity. Experts say the final draft makes a clearer and better definition of the roles of guardians, shops and schools.

The final regulation dropped a widely-supported penalty of up to 500 yuan (US$60) for the owner of any shop selling cigarettes or alcohol who failed to place the no-sale-to-minors announcement in a conspicuous place.

"The regulation didn't set any fines for those who sell cigarettes or alcohol to minors, who are obviously more guilty. It is unreasonable to set fines for those who simply don't place a sign," said Huang Yu with the legislation committee of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, explaining the exclusion of the fine. "Besides, since there are no national laws which have set such penalties before, it is not proper for a regional regulation to do so."

The regulation, which is of great concern to society as a whole, was amended three times in the past six months during more than 20 meetings. The final version won unanimous approval November 25.

Minors were invited to contribute their ideas and suggestions in the law-making process, which, according to Ding Wei, deputy director of the Congress' Law Committee, is the first time in the city's history.

The regulation has won wide support from minors as well as their parents. Students expressed delight at the protection of their interests, according to phone calls made to the hotline of the local Xinmin Evening News.

Heated debate arose over another section of the new regulation, which specifies that students' grades after exams should not be publicized.

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