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Expert calls for complete smoking ban
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Smoking should be completely banned in all workplaces and public areas because separate zones are not effective in preventing exposure to the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco fumes, a health expert told a seminar held in Shanghai this week to discuss local control legislation.

Not only have tests shown that segregating smokers from non-smokers failed to prevent exposure to potentially harmful particles, surveys of hotel guests, restaurant patrons, hospitality industry workers and the general public also demonstrated overwhelming support for strict smoking controls, the seminar participants learned.

The survey was released at Wednesday's session by public health experts from Fudan University, who are providing information to health authorities and the Shanghai People's Congress as the legislature prepares the city's first smoking control law. The local law makers expect to issue the measure before the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

A Chinese-language Website (www.smokefreeshanghai.org) was also unveiled at the seminar, which was called to discuss the law and raise public awareness on the issue. The site provides information on the health hazards of smoking, details on the surveys and information on smoking controls in the West.

About 25 percent of local people are smokers, while the percentage for male residents is around 50 percent.

"Our survey is designed to give officials and law makers more information as they consider the legislation," said Fu Hua, a professor at Fudan University's School of Public Health.

Conducted in August, the survey involved 800 hotel guests and around 4,000 patrons and employees of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues in the city's 18 districts and Chongming County.

Controls supported

About 73 percent of the hotel guests said Shanghai should adopt a smoking ban in public areas, 84 percent of restaurant guests reported exposure to second-hand smoke, and 74 percent of them were annoyed by the fumes and support smoking controls.

"Employees in bars and restaurants were found to suffer the most serious exposure to second-hand smoke," Fu said.

Nearly 91 percent of restaurant workers and 72.4 percentage of employees in entertainment venues were exposed to second-hand smoke every day, the survey found. Sixty-five percent said they were unhappy with the situation, but only 32 percent complained on the job.

In a separate survey by Fudan University of 508 residents, 98 percent of the respondents said second-hand smoking is harmful, and 89 percent support legislation to control smoking in all public areas.

Tests by Fudan found the density of small particles, which can be inhaled and cause adverse health effects, in bars at peak hours was 20 times higher than in office buildings where smoking was banned. Experts said installation of ventilation systems and separate smoking and non-smoking areas can't protect people's health.

(Shanghai Daily February 27, 2009)

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