Beijing smoking ban claims 1st victim

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 2, 2015
Adjust font size:

A hotpot restaurant was the first business to get an official warning for breaking Beijing's tougher smoking ban, as inspectors swooped to enforce the new regulation yesterday.

Enterprise: Sichuan Haidilao Catering Co., Ltd. [Photo/]

Enterprise: Sichuan Haidilao Catering Co., Ltd. [Photo/]

The city sent out more than 1,000 inspectors to ensure the rule was being followed.

Cigarette butts were found in the downtown restaurant's washroom, while the venue also failed to publicize the city's smoking complaint hotline (12320) on its no-smoking posters.

Inspectors will visit again in two days to check compliance, and warned of a fine up to 100,000 yuan (US$1,614) if it failed to do so.

The country's toughest smoking ban comes into force with the capital hoping to stem a looming health crisis in a society where smoking is commonplace.

Smoking in Beijing is now prohibited in all indoor public places, including offices, shopping malls and airports, as well as at outdoor stadiums, school grounds and public parks.

Fines have been raised to 200 yuan (US$32), up from the 10 yuan under the former partial ban, and for the first time owners of restaurants and other businesses are being held responsible for ensuring compliance and will face fines if they fail to do so.

Ma Yongsheng, who runs a restaurant in Beijing, canceled a wedding banquet reservation yesterday, as a guest insisted on smoking during the meal. "If we continue to host guests who smoke, we'll surely be fined," Ma said.

At Beijing Capital International Airport, people gathered at two designated outdoor areas to have a last puff as indoor smoking rooms in the airport's three terminals have all been closed.

While regulators have vowed strict implementation, some still doubt the feasibility of the new ban and fear authorities' resolve to curb smoking could taper over time and leave the ban as ineffective as its predecessors.

Beijing has had smoking bans in place since as far back as the 1990s, and stepped up the campaign before the 2008 Olympics, but the bans have always been weakly enforced.

Yesterday, reporters spotted people smoking indoors in a downtown hospital. And at a bus stop during morning rush hour, a volunteer was asking scores of people to finish smoking elsewhere before lining up.

"Most stub out their cigarettes at our request but that's the most we can do," the volunteer said. "We are not authorized to fine those who refuse to obey the ban."

The World Health Organization suggested mobilizing the public to help enforce the ban. "If you see someone smoking in a restaurant, tell them to stop. Talk to the manager or owner, or call the national health hotline to complain," said the WHO's China representative Bernhard Schwartlander.

China signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003.

"Beijing's ban on smoking indoors is consistent with China's commitment to the framework of protecting the health of non-smokers through enhanced legal support," said Wang Qingbin, a professor with China University of Political Science and Law who helped draft the new smoking ban.

The new ban also serves as a test case for a similar move nationwide. Draft legislation for a national ban has been published.

Angela Pratta, who leads the WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative in China, said: "Strong enforcement is critical to ensuring the effectiveness of smoke-free laws, so too is leadership. Senior officials and leaders in government offices need to lead the way by setting an example and supporting enforcement efforts."

The WHO says lung cancer kills more than 1.3 million people in China each year — a third of the global total.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:    
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from