Smoking ban ‘satisfactory’

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2015-7-4 1:03:01

Beijing's health authorities said on Friday that they were satisfied with the effect China's toughest ever smoking ban has had since it came into effect on June 1, but that inspections remain challenging. A total of 90 smokers and 40 public venue owners have been fined for violating the ban, Gao Xiaojun, spokesperson for the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, told a press conference.

Inspections of 8,877 public venues including restaurants, offices and hospitals found that 81 percent of medical institutions and an equal percentage of schools obeyed the smoking ban, Gao said. However, only around 40 percent of restaurants followed the ban.

The health authorities successfully discouraged 771 individuals from smoking in public during their inspections and demanded that 2,047 organizations and companies take prompt corrective actions.

Addressing the issue of inspections, Gao said that the health authorities' inspectors are not able to access some classified government departments and companies, and that the responsibility for violations in office buildings is often not clear as the building's property management department and tenant companies tend to pass the buck to each other. 

Bernhard Schwartländer, World Health Organization Representative in China, said that he is pleased to see the owners of venues in Beijing taking it upon themselves to implement the smoking ban.

"With a tough law in place, accompanied by a continued focus on strong enforcement, there is no reason to think that Beijing will be any different to other great cities in the world like New York, London, and Sydney - where 'smoke-free' is now the unquestioned norm," said Schwartländer, according to a press release issued on Friday. He added that there is strong public support for public places becoming smoke-free environments.

Owners of venues who fail to put up no-smoking signs or who allow smoking will face fines of up to 10,000 yuan ($1,600), and individual violators will be fined up to 200 yuan, according to the ban.

The health authorities also launched a drive to recruit volunteers on Friday as the city only has 1,100 inspectors for a total of 4.19 million smokers.

The volunteers will work to promote the smoking ban, assist inspections and give people advice on quitting smoking through a telephone hotline or online. Non-smoking locals aged between 15 and 70 can apply to be volunteers, and all volunteers will have to work for at least six hours a week starting from August, said Zhang Jianshu, president of the Beijing Association on Tobacco Control. He added that Beijing plans to recruit 100,000 volunteers.

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