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New public smoking ban need more specified regulations

English.news.cn   2011-05-03 13:49:04 FeedbackRSS

 BEIJING, May 3 (Xinhuanet) -- A new national smoking ban has gone into effect, which extends to all enclosed public areas. Our reporter Zhang Ni finds out how the new rules are working in the capital.

"Is the announcement in Chinese or in English? If in Chinese, it makes no sense to viewers."

"Dear passengers, for your health and safety, it is prohibited to smoke anywhere in the station."

In the busiest railway station in Beijing, the smoking ban seems effective. The station has been a non-smoking area since 1996. The official says they have their own control measures.

Song Jianguo, Spokesman of Beijing West Railway Station said "Inside the station, if our staff see someone smoking and do not stop them, there will be some punishment for our staff, from a spoken reprimand to penalties."

"But no penalties for smokers?"

"We have no right to impose fines."

Then who does impose fines? The official didn't give an answer.

Just outside the entrance, there are smokers everywhere. It's also listed as a public area, but during the one hour when we film, no one stops them.

Song Jianguo said "The public square in front of the station is not in our jurisdiction. The local government should be in charge."

The regulation hasn't reached far. These restaurants just across the street are all unfamiliar with the new smoking ban.

"Do you know there's a new smoking ban in public areas?"

"No."

"Has anyone inspected here?"

"No, no one."

"Are you the boss here?"

"No, I only work here."

"Do you know there's a new smoking ban in public areas?"

"No, I don't."

"So we can just smoke here and no one ever says anything about it?"

"I'm only here to eat."

A smoking ban is nothing new in China. Since China joined the WHO's Framework Convention on tobacco control 5 years ago, local authorities have introduced the ban in public areas. Beijing was the first city to do so. But there's no specific law or any strict regulation in the country.

Wang Yuqing, President of Chinese Society for Environmental Science said "At most of the sites I inspected, even when there is a "No Smoking" sign, people are still amoking. And there is seldom any punishment."

China has the world's largest number of smokers, as well as the biggest revenue from tobacco taxes. Some provinces like Yunnan depend on tobacco industry, which provides over 45 percent of government receipts.

Ying Songnian, President of Admin. Law Research, China Law Society said "If they do their work from the tobacco control aspect, they would try to reduce the volume of cigarettes or take measures to make people not want to smoke. But this also has a contradictory aspect: to make tobacco a highly profitable business. Of course they want more and more people to smoke."

The new regulation still does not specify punishments for business owners who defy the ban nor specify penalties for smokers in public areas.

Given the high profits of the tobacco industry, how to specify the punishment for smokers in public areas and how to manage the penalties are turning into a hot potato for the departments concerned. And without specified punishment, the new regulation risks remaining on paper.

(Source:cntv.cn)

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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