Shanghai smoking ban moves step closer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 October, 2009, 12:00am

Authorities in Shanghai have taken a further step towards implementing strict smoking restrictions in the city by the end of the year, local media reported yesterday.

The proposed legislation, the first of its kind in Shanghai, is being rushed through to ensure implementation ahead of the World Expo due to start in just over six months. Draft regulations published through state-sponsored media outlets yesterday flesh out proposals floated at a consultation forum last month.

In a rare example of public participation in the lawmaking process on the mainland, the latest draft incorporates feedback received during that session, and significantly tightens up the initial proposals.

Internet cafes and large restaurants now face a total ban, in addition to places such as cinemas, museums, banks and airports.

They had been given special dispensation, along with bars and small restaurants, to allow smoking in designated areas.

There will also be a blanket ban at hospitals and schools, and not just indoors: smoking is to be forbidden anywhere in the grounds.

Officials said they were focusing their efforts on protecting the city's youngest citizens from the dangers of passive smoking.

Liu Yungeng, chairman of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress, told the Shanghai Daily the legislation would cover secondary school campuses, not just indoor areas as originally proposed.

'Teachers should not smoke anywhere at a middle-school complex,' Liu said. 'Their public behaviour influences students. Teachers should be good role models.'

The latest draft of the law extends to all children's activity centres.

More information also emerged about how the ban will be implemented and enforced, with lawmakers having decided to place it under the jurisdiction of the city's Health Promotion Commission.

Individual offenders are to face spot fines of between 50 yuan and 200 yuan (HK$57 and HK$225), while companies and organisations could face penalties of up to 30,000 yuan if they fail to comply.

The legislation also makes a clear statement backing the rights of non-smokers. 'Any person can request a smoker to stop smoking in a no-smoking area; those who do not belong to the unit responsible for enforcing the ban can make a report to the investigation department.'

But implementing the ban is likely to be an uphill struggle. Cigarette smoking is ubiquitous in Shanghai and there is little public awareness of concerns about passive smoking or non-smokers' rights.

If the ban is successfully implemented it would make Shanghai the first mainland city to follow Hong Kong, which introduced the first phase of its ban in January 2007.