orangezippo // From Shanghaiist Flickr pool
By Paul Hickey
A year after the smoking ban was supposedly introduced here in Shanghai, the national government has decided to make a similar China-wide smoking ban in all cities and towns. The ban will prohibit smoking in public places, including on buses and in restaurants and bars.
The recent and shocking findings from the World Health Organisation may have prompted the new legislation. A report found:
“That almost a quarter of China’s population smoke and one million die every year from smoking-related illnesses.” That accounts for one fifth of people world-wide who die from smoking.”
Undeniably, the government has set out with good intentions but people remain sceptical. The New York Times writes:
“There are considerable loopholes. The rules do not cover factories, offices or government workplaces, and, more important, they lack specific penalty guidelines. That detail has prompted shrugs among devoted smokers, many of whom have long since learned to ignore the no-smoking signs in hospital waiting areas, gymnasium locker rooms and elevators.”
Another reason to doubt: As far back as 2009, there were hopes that Shanghai would be smoke free by now. Alas, it hasn’t happened. Restaurants still allow the stuff, and only a handful of bars are actually policed (it seems that, outside of the Jing’an Windows, nobody’s taken notice at all). Not even Shanghai’s “better city, better life” saviour, the Expo, managed to enforce the rules.
Details of fines and control are yet to be released, but what’s the hope that they will be more effective than previous attempts? Here’s one thing we know: we won’t be holding our breaths for it.