A survey conducted by China Youth Daily last week found that among 10,471 people surveyed, 69 percent knew about Beijing’s current public smoking ban, while 31 percent did not. Out of those polled 95 percent agreed with the ban while 5 percent disagreed.
Chinese smokers have a saying: "It is for lonely fingers." Jiang Bu, chief representative of the GKK Architects in China, has been smoking for seven years: "In my opinion, smoking has nothing to do with individuality or fashion; it’s for lonely people (looking to socialize). Now I cannot smoke freely, my first thought is not to affect others when I am (lonesome) and eager for a cigarette."
Enforcement on public grounds took effect on May 1 in the Olympic host city of Beijing. Beijing also implemented new rules requiring restaurants and guest rooms to keep 50 percent of their areas smoke-free.
As usual, Jiang goes downstairs for dinner and takes a cigarette, but when it just touches his lips, he finds no ashtray. His usual dining room has become a non-smoking establishment. After seeing people abide by the new rules he extinguishes his cigarette.
Two months after the new regulations were passed, people are asking about its effectiveness in reducing the numbers of smokers. According to a survey of 10,471 people conducted by China Youth Daily last week, 81.6 percent of public showed their willingness to stop while 18.4 percent said they had never thought of it.
Today some people are still smoking in public places despite the new rules. According to the survey, 58.8 percent believed that the main reason is a lack of chief inspectors to issue fines while 51.7 percent considered a 10-yuan fine is not powerful enough.
Some people resist the non-smoking policy, saying the government should raise the tax ratio instead. This would act as incentive against smoking.
Although many people believe that cigarettes, as part of Chinese traditional culture, is an essential part of communication. However, 60.1 percent of the public believes that smokers are just people that cannot quit the habit.
56 percent of the public believes that education and a friendlier non-smoking atmosphere are the most important elements to successfully implementing the ban.
(China.org.cn by Jessica Zhang, July 16, 2008)