A Shanghai legislator yesterday called for a ban on smoking in public places, including the venue for the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, during the six-month event that kicks off on May 1.
Feng Danlong, a deputy to the congress, proposed the bill at the ongoing annual meeting of the municipal people's congress, saying, smoking should be banned at the exposition park, as well as at other public places like restaurants, hospitals, hotels, schools and gyms during the Expo.
She said no advertisements for cigarettes should be permitted, and the existing ones should be ripped off before the event.
Feng added that the mandatory warning words on cigarette packets should be bolder and clearly visible.
"I hope my idea will influence local authorities to become stricter on smoking bans, and I hope the World Expo to be smoke-free," she said.
Citing an example, Feng said that the idea of smoke-free Olympic Games was proposed in 1988, and since 1992, all Games' hosts have tried to maintain the policy.
It is estimated that there are some 350 million smokers in China, the largest puffing population in the world.
Beijing issued a ban on smoking in all public areas in August to host a smoke-free Olympics.
Though a regulation to control smoking in public places was announced in 1994, Shanghai is currently drafting an updated and stricter law to prohibit people from lighting up in any public space with a ceiling.
Smoking was banned in the city's taxis last year, and according to the law, passengers, who find taxi drivers smoking, have right to refuse to pay for a ride.
Mayor Han Zheng, in his opening speech at the meeting, also appealed to authorities to control smoking in public places.
Zhou Xiaodong, a 30-year-old logistic professional, who has been smoking for about 15 years, said even he would not mind a wider and stricter smoking ban in public areas.
"I know smoking is harmful. But I just can't quit," he said.
"And I never smoke in shopping malls or in elevators. I smoke on the streets, and sometimes at restaurants, but no one has ever tried to stop me or warn me. If I know I might get caught, I won't do it," he said.
Zhang Liqiang, an official with Shanghai Smoking Control Office, had admitted earlier that enforcing the ban would be extremely difficult.
"We are doing more surveys and studying to find feasible solutions," the People's Daily quoted him as having said.
(China Daily January 14, 2009)