Shanghai seeks ways to promote smoking ban

Updated 2017-01-24 13:28:56

Political advisers in Shanghai have proposed the city learn from other cities about publicizing the smoking ban that will take effect in five weeks.

Beginning March 1, all public indoor venues and work areas, as well as some outdoor places, such as art performance and sporting venues, open areas at maternity and infant hospitals, kindergartens and bus stops in Shanghai will become nonsmoking zones to shield nonsmokers from secondhand smoke.

But the current anti-smoking advertisements in the city are far from enough, said some local political advisers during their annual gathering last week.

"In Singapore, smoking bans with pictures, such as broken cigarette butts and children covering their mouths and noses surrounded by smoke, are very commonly seen in the streets to gain people's attention," said Wang Xinmei, a member of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Shanghai's political advisory body.

"Beijing also did a good job informing the public of its smoking ban, which became effective in June 2015. On all the flights and trains bound for Beijing there are repeat broadcasts of the smoking ban, which seems powerful, and Shanghai can learn from that," said Wang, who is also chairwoman of the Jinshan district branch of the city's political advisory body.

Gwan Tat-cheong, a Hongkonger and another political adviser in Shanghai, said Shanghai may look to Hong Kong, where smoking indoors has been prohibited since 2007. Publicity of the smoking ban is ubiquitous in public venues and on different communication channels throughout the city, and the notifications also highlight the cost that violators face.

"It always states clearly that errant smokers can be slapped with fines of HK,500 (3)," said Gwan, who is also a senior adviser at the Bank of East Asia (China) Ltd.

Severe punishment for violators in the first few days after the regulation takes effect may also serve as a powerful deterrent, said the political advisers. Individuals caught smoking in forbidden areas will be fined from 50 to 200 yuan, and organizations that fail to stop smokers will be fined up to 30,000 yuan, according to the new regulation.

Wu Fan, director of the Shanghai Center for Disease Control, said: "Any new regulation, such as the citywide fireworks and firecrackers ban since the beginning of last year, faces challenges when it first comes into being, but it'll become easier when a consensus is formed in the whole society."

China is the world's largest consumer and producer of tobacco. World Health Organization statistics showed that there are more than 300 million smokers in the country, accounting for almost one-third of the world's total.

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