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China Upgrades Environmental Sanitation Rules
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China is soliciting public opinion on its environmental sanitation regulations which envisage tougher disinfection, ventilation and hygiene standards.

"Smoking will be banned in taxis, buses, air-conditioned trains, planes and waiting rooms. Areas of high pedestrian density should be no-smoking areas and should be equipped with special ventilation facilities," says a draft revision of China's environmental sanitation regulations, published on Thursday by the State Council, or cabinet.

Business operators must place visible prohibition signs in no-smoking areas. Individuals or organizations who install automatic tobacco vending machines will be fined up to 5,000 yuan (US$650), according to the draft revision by the Ministry of Health.

The original regulation, two decades old, has been outpaced by rapid social and economic development. The revised regulation expands its scope to cover all public places with a special focus on hotels, public toilets, swimming pools, beauty parlors and waiting rooms.

"Local health officials who cover up public health incidents such as epidemics will be demoted or expelled, and business operators who delay in reporting public health incidents in their precincts will be fined up to 30,000 yuan (US$3,900)," the regulation said.

It also requires operators to install air purification facilities to prevent the spread of disease, and those defying hygiene rules and facilitating the spread of infectious diseases will have their business licenses revoked and be fined up to 100,000 yuan (US$13,000), and could be charged with crimes.

The revised regulation bans the opening of public places that are being renovated. Reopening must wait until the air quality has reached normal standards.

"Disposable products, such as chopsticks, should not be used more than once. In restaurants and places of entertainment, drinking water, lighting and noise must conform to national standards," it said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 22, 2007)

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