Beijing to ban smoking in cabs

Updated: 2007-09-20 20:35

Beijing will enforce a smoking ban in cabs from October 1 in a move to help create a "non-smoking" Olympic Games in 2008.

Passengers and drivers both face fines if they are caught smoking in taxis, but the penalty amount is yet to be announced by municipal transportation and traffic administrations.

Local authorities, including the Health Bureau, Transportation Administration Bureau, and Transportation Law Enforcement General Team, would jointly launch the public promotion of smoke-free cabs on Sunday, said Zhang Junru, of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The municipal government has drafted a set of regulations, currently open to public submissions, banning smoking at Olympic venues, athletes' accommodation areas, and within vehicles designated to serve the event.

Sales of cigarettes would also be banned in all venues, and training and accommodation areas.

However, implementation of the ban faces hurdles in Beijing, where almost half the male population are cigarette addicts, according to a survey conducted by Horizon Research Consultancy Group.

The survey showed that every smoker in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan consumes an average of 17 cigarettes every day.

Some Beijing cabbies fear passengers will ignore the ban and their advice against smoking, and they say they lack the authority to stop passengers from smoking.

The concept of a "non-smoking" Olympics, initiated in 1988, has been put into practice since the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Next year's event will be the first "non-smoking" Olympic Games after the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), of which China is a signatory, went into effect in 2005.

The government has pledged to ban all types of tobacco advertising and promotions by 2011 in accordance with its obligations under the FCTC.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health indicated that 350 million people in China, about 26 percent of the country's population and a third of the world's smoking population, are hooked on nicotine and about one million people die from smoking-related diseases each year.

The State Council, or cabinet, completed a draft on public places administration in June, under which smoking would be banned in cabs, buses, air-conditioned trains, planes and transportation waiting rooms.

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