Beijing’s highly-anticipated smoking control regulation, which is currently awaiting a second review, has come under fire from anti-smoking activists, who say that loopholes permit smoking in public places, according to China Daily.
The regulation, to be reviewed later this month, does not allow smoking in shared workspaces, however, smoking is permitted in certain hotel rooms and suites that have ventilation systems.
Wu Yiqun, deputy director of the Think Tank Research Center for Health Development, believes that Beijing’s proposed legislation may undermine anti-smoking laws that are already in place (yet routinely ignored) in other areas of China.
“Once passed, the draft can be a setback to the capital’s long-term plans for smoke-free public indoor areas and might create a negative impact on other regions in China that have introduced or are planning to initiate anti-smoking laws and regulations,” said Wu.
She believes that the regulation needs to tighten up to ensure that all indoor public spaces are “totally smoke-free under the law and regulations that aims to discourage people from smoking and protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke.”
Much of the opposition to the new law is down to an apparent lack of clarity on what is deemed to be a shared indoor workspace. Wu added that hotels with ventilated smoking facilities would still expose hotel staff and other guests to second-hand smoke under the new law.
Wu’s concerns are shared by Yu Xiuyan who is a researcher at the think tank. Yu believes that the legislation may create friction and disparity. “Just think, who has an office all to themselves at work? Only high-ranking officials,” said Yu.
There are elements of the new legislation that have been praised, however. Wu is satisfied with the draft’s proposal to prevent the young population from being exposed to smoking. Areas close to schools are to be prohibited from selling tobacco products.
It is possible that the new legislation could be introduced at the end of this year following a third review in November. But, until this law is in place, we may have to put up with more smoking toddlers.
By Robert Ridley
[Image via kickingcigarettebutt.com]