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Shanghai welcomes new smoking ban

By China Daily in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-21 07:50

Shanghai welcomes new smoking ban

People smoke at an outdoor designated smoking area on Dongfang Road in Shanghai in September. The city will extend its public smoking ban to more outdoor areas under a new regulation starting in March. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

The World Health Organization and some members of the public said they welcome the extended smoking ban in Shanghai, which is aimed at shielding residents from secondhand smoke.

The new regulation prohibiting smoking at all public indoor venues and indoor working areas was recently approved by the city's legislative body, the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, and will take effect in March next year.

Other locations included in the extended smoking ban are a greater number of outdoor places, such as artistic performance and sports venues, open areas at maternity and infant hospitals and the bus stops.

The regulation was passed 10 days before the 9th Global Conference on Health Promotion, which is to be held in Shanghai from Monday to Thursday this week, focusing on promoting public health.

"We are delighted that, with the adoption of this new law, Shanghai will be protecting nonsmokers from the health risks of inhaling secondhand smoke," said Bernhard Schwartlander, World Health Organization representative in China.

"When this new law comes into force in March next year, the people of Shanghai will be able to breathe smoke-free air indoors. This is a huge step forward for the health of Shanghai's more than 20 million residents. Deaths caused by involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke are entirely preventable, and from a public health perspective, such deaths are simply unacceptable," he added.

"By fully implementing and enforcing the comprehensive indoor smoking ban without exceptions, Shanghai will once again be able to position itself as a leader in controlling smoking in the Healthy City movement in China," he said.

The city's first regulation to control smoking took effect in 2010, while smoking is allowed in designated areas at restaurants, entertainment venues, railway stations and airports. But experts insist that the air around these designated venues still contains high levels of PM2.5, which is produced by smoking and can cause cancer.

Under the new regulation, smoking is banned in outdoor public spaces at kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, welfare houses and other venues where minors are gathered.

The ban will also be effective in outdoor areas when cultural relics are displayed to the public, and other regulated sites.

Individuals caught smoking at these areas will be fined between 50 and 200 yuan ($7 to $29) and organizations that fail to stop smokers will be fined up to 30,000 yuan.

Management of public areas is required to organize special staff or volunteers to stop people from smoking, educate people about the smoking ban and report violations to regulators.

Members of the public said they look forward to the city's continuous efforts to fully implement and enforce the smoking ban without exceptions.

"It is important that our government is taking rigid action," said Zhu Yifei, a 33-year-old non-smoker. Special personnel should be deployed to fight smoking in the same way illegal parking is dealt with, she added.

Liu Demin, a smoker, said: "I seldom smoke indoors. I might be too lazy to go out to smoke under tighter laws."

He also suggested increasing the amount of publicity surrounding the new regulation, "or people will have no idea that they have violated it".

Fang Aiqing contributed to this story.

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