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County's ban on publicly smoking bacon draws ire

By ZHAO YIMENG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-11-27 09:57
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Authorities in a county in Sichuan province have banned residents from smoking bacon in their homes or public spaces in urban areas, citing concerns about air pollution. The ban has sparked controversy, with some residents questioning the scientific evidence behind the move and accusing a company of trying to profit from the initiative.

The Tongjiang county government in Bazhong city issued a notice on Nov 15 banning the smoking of bacon in agricultural markets, in residential buildings, on balconies and rooftops and along roadsides and riversides in urban areas. Residents are also prohibited from building private facilities to smoke meat.

The burning of fresh cypress branches, the wood that is primarily used to smoke bacon, produces soot that seriously affects air quality and the environment, according to the Tongjiang county administrative law enforcement bureau.

The notice listed two designated smoking spots outside urban areas where residents can smoke meat. However, one of the spots was still under construction at the time of the notice, and the other one, located at an animal husbandry company, only accepted meat products that were purchased from the company.

Netizens expressed concerns about the environmental claims and about the associated costs of smoking meat at the designated spots.

"I don't believe smoking bacon can result in air pollution," a netizen said on social media platform Sina Weibo.

"Why do they charge additional fees for smoking bacon at designated spots?" another Weibo user asked.

Others questioned the motive behind the animal husbandry company's smoking services.

"It can be a way of making a profit as residents have to buy their products," one commenter said.

In response to the controversy, the Tongjiang government issued a new circular on Saturday clarifying the rules. The circular states that the company's smoking spot is now open to the public and that residents do not have to buy meat products from the company in order to smoke their bacon.

While the company has agreed to accept meat from outside sources for smoking, residents will be charged a fee for the service. The price of smoking and pickling meat is set in accordance with market prices.

A man surnamed Liu, who heads the company, confirmed that it has started to allow the smoking of meat that isn't purchased on site.

"To prevent the spread of animal diseases, we had requested that people only smoke meat bought from our company," Liu said, stressing that the company wasn't trying to profit from the government initiative.

The ban on smoking bacon has drawn mixed reactions from residents.

Some support the ban, arguing that it is necessary to protect the environment. Others argue that it infringes on their traditional rights.

The Tongjiang government has said that it is committed to working with residents to find solutions that will both protect the environment and respect local traditions.

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