Shanghai's ban on smoking coughs up little

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 March, 2011, 12:00am

Shanghai's year-old partial smoking ban, the first such regulation in a mainland city, does not appear to have been very effective, with just 12 organisations and five individuals punished.

A smoking control white paper, which the municipal government released on Monday ahead of yesterday's first anniversary of the campaign's launch, said the fines imposed totalled just 25,400 yuan (HK$30,100). The 12 organisations punished were an internet cafe, three entertainment venues, three hotels, two hospitals and three state-owned companies, and the five people were two internet cafe customers, one medical worker and two patients.

It said smoking had halved in designated no-smoking areas but admitted that in some 'smoke rampant areas' such as restaurants and karaoke bars, the proportion of people smoking had dropped only 0.3 per cent to 40.5 per cent.

The city banned smoking in schools, kindergartens, hospitals, supermarkets and lifts. Large restaurants, dance halls, internet cafes and karaoke bars are required to set aside designated no-smoking areas.

Individuals can be fined between 50 yuan and 200 yuan, but first-time offenders are given a warning. Companies face fines from 2,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan.

Tang Qiong, from the Shanghai Health Bureau's health enhancement committee, said they focused on 'education, propaganda and persuasion' when dealing with offenders, rather than punishment. 'Punishment is not our goal, but a way of achieving [controls on smoking],' Tang said.

She said that compared with other cities which adopted smoking restrictions, such as Guangzhou and Beijing - both of which had yet to punish an offender - Shanghai had been 'cautious and firm'.

But Zheng Pinpin, a researcher at Fudan University's school of public health, said the response of officials had been insufficient and enforcement of the law was weak.

'How is it possible that in Shanghai there are millions of smokers, but such a small number of people were caught and punished?' Zheng said.

She said it was unfair to penalise some people while ignoring large groups of smokers who were purportedly 'first-time offenders'.

When the regulation was introduced last year, 95 per cent of people said they had been exposed to second-hand smoke, reported.

A survey of 368 people by the Oriental Morning Post found that almost three-quarters of people polled felt the restrictions produced lacklustre results.

Soft response

Shanghai began the partial ban on smoking one year ago

Some 12 organisations and five people have been fined, in yuan, a total of: 25,400