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Who would’ve thought that the most populous city of a nation that contains one-third of the world’s smokers would have people proposing public area smoking bans so sweeping it even makes us gag? Yet another advocate has come out of the woodwork to join the growing call for a comprehensive smoking ban in Shanghai’s restaurants, pubs… and even individual rooms in karaoke bars.
Lan Yiming, Vice Director of Shanghai Culture Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team, which would be responsible for enforcing the ban, suggested that an absolute ban on smoking in public buildings would be better than providing separate smoking rooms in each building because it would prevent complaints of unfair treatment from customers.
From Shanghai Daily:
“The law should ensure fairness. There should be no difference in smoking control among different rooms inside a karaoke bar or elsewhere in the industry,” Lan Yiming… said during a public hearing yesterday on the draft measure.
Without a blanket ban, he fears his agency and the others handling enforcement will have a difficult time persuading people to stop smoking in one area when they see people lighting up in another nearby.
As reported earlier this month, new legislation has begun targeting individuals rather than establishments for smoking in prohibited areas, with fines leaving a maximum 200RMB dent in the smoker’s wallet.
The legislation currently under discussion will take effect in January despite fears that they may hurt the city’s restaurant and bar industries. However, with the World Expo looming in Shanghai’s not-too-distant future, legislators are primarily concerned with solidifying Shanghai’s status as a ‘global city’, and have therefore tried to follow the worldwide trend towards metropolitan tobacco control.
We’ve always been pretty vocally on the side of more smoking bans, but we have to admit Lan’s suggestion caused even us to raise an eyebrow. Maybe we’ve been here too long to imagine forcing everyone in a private karaoke room to not smoke, and it seems a little silly to think that smokers would claim that they have the right to smoke in a designated non-smoking room if there are smoking rooms available.
Still, we suppose if France, whose national stereotype is inextricably linked to cigarettes, can implement anti-smoking regulations, it only seems right that Shanghai follow suit. Besides, regardless of whether the new legislation will make you sleep easier at night, it will certainly make you breathe a little easier during the day.