Beijing adopted anti-smoking legislation to ban smoking in all indoor public places, workplaces and public transport vehicles on Friday.
The draft regulation was passed by vote at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Beijing Municipal People’s Congress. It is scheduled to become effective on June 1 next year.
According to the bill, smoking is also prohibited in open-air space in kindergartens, schools, child welfare institutions, women and children’s hospitals, fitness and sports venues, and cultural relic protection sites that are open to the public.
Tobacco advertisements are not allowed to appear outdoors, in public places and transport, as well as in media including radio, TV, films, newspapers, books, and internet. All forms of tobacco promotions and title sponsorship are banned.
Teachers are forbidden from smoking in front of students in primary and secondary schools. Schools are also required to help students quit smoking and educate them about the harm of smoking.
The regulation also prohibits selling cigarettes to minors through vending machines and the internet.
People who smoke in designated smoke-free areas will be fined up to 200 yuan(32.5 U. S. dollars).
According to the regulation, legal representatives and people in charge of government agencies, public institutions and social organizations will be given the authority to implement the smoking ban in their workplaces.
The main responsibility to enforce the regulation in the public places will be on the shoulders of the managers and operators.
Since it was unveiled in April, the draft regulation has undergone three revisions and triggered controversy over the range of smoke-free areas.
The first draft amendment, published in August, only bans smoking in “shared indoor public places” and permits smoking rooms in hotels and waiting lounges of airports.
The second draft amendment in September included a ban on smoking in single occupancy offices by removing the word “shared” from the draft, but the stipulation on smoking rooms remained unchanged.
The draft was finally restored to the tougher original version after a third revision.
Wang Qingbin, an associate law professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, said, the changes to the draft demonstrated how public opinion pushed forward anti-smoking legislation.
Beijing’s move has reaffirmed the country’s anti-smoking determination. China’s first state-level anti-smoking legislation was published on Monday for public consultation. The draft regulation intends to ban indoor smoking, limit outdoor smoking and end tobacco advertising.
As the world’s largest tobacco maker and consumer, China has more than 300 million smokers and another 740 million people exposed to second-hand smoke each year. The population of smokers in Beijing exceeds 400,000.
In 2003, China signed the FCTC. the convention, which became effective in China in 2006, requires signatories to ban smoking in public areas, reduce tobacco supplies and consumption, ban all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
A dozen Chinese cities, such as Shanghai, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, have launched local legislation on tobacco control.
MORE TO BE DONE
Besides issuing smoking bans, experts suggest Chine raise taxes and retail prices of tobacco products in order to effectively lower the smoking rate.
According to the WHO, when the price of tobacco products rises by 10 percent, the number of adults who quit smoking will grow by 3.7 percent, and the rate of the price-sensitive adolescents will be 9.3 percent.
Yang Gonghuan, deputy head of Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, said, ideally, taxes should represent 67 to 80 percent of the retail price of cigarettes. However, in China, the rate is about 43.4 percent, much lower than world average.
While the consumption of high-end cigarettes has been largely reduced thanks to China’s anti-corruption drive, the cigarette producers and sellers are putting more efforts in attracting consumers in the mid-to low-end market and even adolescents, said Shen Jingjing, director of the disease control and prevention center in Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province.
The rising of cigarette prices will be especially effective in deterring young smokers, Shen said.
Meanwhile, adding health warning signs to the packs of the cigarettes has long been called for by China’s anti-smoking advocates.
Although export products by Chinese cigarette brands have health warnings added on their packaging, such practice has been scarcely applied to products sold domestically.
Shen said, China’s tobacco producers are strongly opposed to the practice, arguing that it is inappropriate to add the gruesome warning signs on the cigarette packages in a country where giving cigarettes as gifts is a long-held tradition.
However, the situation may change in the near future, as the newly published state-level draft regulation asks cigarette producers to add written and visual health warning signs to cigarette packages and the signs should cover at least half of the total area of the packages.
Source: China Daily