Foreigners feel Shanghai’s big Expo ban was just smoke and mirrors

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-5-28 16:43:01

In 2010, as Shanghai prepared itself to receive millions of visitors for the World Expo 2010, city authorities introduced a smoking ban to much fanfare. It was part of a raft of policies aimed at improving the city's image for visitors from across the country and, in particular, overseas.

The move was met with much skepticism, but no smoking signs began appearing in public venues and ashtrays were put behind counters. A hot line was even set up to report transgressions of the new regulation.

However, with the five-year anniversary of the ban coming up this weekend, the rules are still patchily enforced. The Global Times took to the streets to ask foreign visitors and residents what impact they think the ban has had, if any.


Lou, tourist, France

I have been in Shanghai for a week and I did not realize there was any kind of smoking ban here. In my hostel they don't allow smoking in the bedrooms, but it is fine in the common area and the bar. I only smoke when I'm out, and at all the bars I have been to, it has been fine. Sure, it can get a bit smoky, and I feel bad for the staff. But everyone seems to smoke here anyway. We are getting tough on smoking in France, there are many restrictions and more coming. Although not everywhere follows them, it is far better than in Shanghai!

Adam, intern, the US

It really annoys me to see people smoking where they shouldn't. Sometimes I get into the elevator in the morning and there's someone smoking in there. Once it happened, I asked the guy to stop and pointed at the no smoking sign, and he completely ignored me. And this was in an elevator! It's not like he was very convincing. So there needs to be more enforcement and more penalties for people who ignore the rules. But I don't see it happening anytime soon. It's been five years already and nothing's changed!

The five-year anniversary of the smoking ban in Shanghai comes up this weekend. Photos:

Marija, student, Croatia

I'm a smoker but I support the ban. I think having to step outside to smoke surely makes you smoke less. Also, it is kind of like a nice little break - or it can be a good excuse to escape a conversation you don't want to have. But yes, it's horrible getting home from a night out and the next morning your clothes and hair stink of stale smoke. I don't know if I'm going to quit any time soon, but a smoking ban can't hurt. Of course, I mean a real one - not like the one in Shanghai that everyone ignores!

Rich, teacher, the UK

Of course it is possible that people will abide by a ban, but what is needed is strict enforcement, and of course respect for the law. Here, everything seems negotiable and no one takes any notice or confronts anyone who breaks the rules. If you really want something, you have to support it fully. Maybe Chinese people don't really want a smoking ban.

Tony, teacher, the UK

I remember the days in the UK before the smoking ban in pubs there. No one thought it would work, and it was very controversial but boom - it was like overnight. It worked. And people by and large have stuck with it. It seemed incredible back then, but now it is just taken for granted. And I have to say it is so much nicer in pubs. But here, even in bars that have no smoking signs everywhere, people still smoke. It's a joke really. Actually, I don't even really notice it any more. So it takes a while to adjust when I go back home to the UK.

Global Times

Posted in: Metro Shanghai, City Panorama

blog comments powered by Disqus