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Smoking Ban Overdue
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t has been revealed that banning smoking in public venues will be included in the amended Regulations on Public Sanitation Management, although there is still no timetable when the amended regulations will be published and take effect.

This will be the first time such a ban has won support from national administrative regulations adopted by the State Council.

While it is senseless to question the consensus that secondhand smoking kills, it will be an arduous battle to protect non-smokers from being harmed by passive smoking. This is not only because China accounts for one-third of the world's total smokers, with 350 million, but because most smokers stubbornly insist they have the right and freedom to smoke wherever they want.

A tobacco control report published by the central government two months ago estimated that 540 million people are affected by breathing in secondhand smoke. This sends a message of how serious the harm done to passive smokers and how difficult will it be to ban smoking in public places.

Quite a number of localities have introduced their own smoking bans. But often, smokers can be spotted dragging on their cigarettes without ever looking at the "No Smoking" sign just above their heads.

However hard it will be, banning smoking in public venues is of great significance in different dimensions to the future of this country.

The trend of more youth joining the rank of smokers will not be curbed without effectively banning smoking in public venues. Both interact as cause and effect. The expanding forces of smokers will undoubtedly make it harder to have smoking-free public venues while ineffective smoking bans in public places can hardly drive home the message that smoking with no regard to the health of others equals murder.

Increasing investment and manpower in efforts to ban smoking in public venues can be an opportunity for the country to cultivate the awareness of concern for others, which is badly in need for building a harmonious society.

Heavy fines will remind those who take no heed of how others feel when they smoke that there is a price to pay for the harm their smoking might cause.

(China Daily August 13, 2007)

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