City to smokers: Obey or pay

0 CommentsPrint E-mail, February 23, 2010
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Stubbing the cigarette out, a middle-aged man smoking at the exit of the local government's building under a "No Smoking" sign was asked to leave by officials who were carrying out an inspection on smoking control yesterday morning.

But soon he might not be so lucky as to escape penalties, because the city's first tobacco control law will be taking effect on March 1.

People who smoke in banned areas can face fines from 50 yuan (US$7.32) to 200 yuan.

Under the Shanghai Public Places Smoking Control Law, a total smoking ban will be applied to 12 types of public areas, including schools, hospitals, supermarkets and elevators, among others.

The law also requires karaoke bars, dance balls and restaurants to set up designated smoking and nonsmoking areas.

Yesterday, the city set up its first smoking-control volunteer team with an initial batch of 20,000 people. Most of them are retired workers or work for neighborhood committees.

About 500 among them vowed at the promotional ceremony yesterday to participate in the public supervision at nonsmoking areas.

But officials hoped that smokers would mainly police themselves.

"We still encourage people to have self-control of smoking and consciously refuse to smoke in public areas," said Luo Yu, official of local government offices administration.

People who smoke in banned areas will first be warned by volunteers and officials of supervision departments. They will be fined if they refuse to stop, according to Luo.

Anyone may dial the public supervision hotline to report offenders. The fine for the offense will be determined by a local health supervision institute.

"No Smoking" signs and the supervision hotline numbers were supposed to be posted on the walls of smoking-ban venues, said Luo.

"One thing for sure - the shops at some public institutions will face a great shrinkage in their tobacco business," he added.

"We believe that with the help of the law and volunteers, more people will be protected from being endangered by passive smoking," said Li Zhongfa, deputy director of the Shanghai Health Promotion Commission.

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