Its official, China plans to impose nationwide anti-smoking regulation by the end of the year.
The legislation that will “attempt” to control smoking in public places, was introduced by a senior official with the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Tuesday. No more smoking doctors, no more innovative contraptions to combat second hand smoke, no more public violence, what the hell are we going to write about until everyone starts ignoring the ban?
Mao Qun’an, head of the commission’s publicity department, appeared at the Global Conference on Health Promotion in Shanghai to reveal that “smoking harms health has become a global consensus.” Breaking news!
The draft legislation will prohibit smoking in all indoor public venues, workplaces and public transport. It will also ban smoking in public outdoor spaces, including primary schools, kindergartens, historic sites, stadiums and children’s hospitals.
Individuals in breach of the new law will face fines of up to 500 yuan, while companies in violation will incur a fine of up to 30,000 yuan as well as the potential loss of their business license.
So, why has this same soft of legislation introduced back in 2011 failed so miserably? Well, poor enforcement seems to be the major problem, as you might have noticed walking into any of Shanghai’s smoke-filled restaurants. Also, there’s a lack of education about the harm that cigarettes can cause. China makes more cigarettes than anywhere else in the world, and so far Chinese tobacco companies have been reluctant to introduce WHO-recommended “scary” packaging with their products.
Another contributing factor is the habit’s price tag. Even after the government increased the tobacco tax last year, the price of cigarettes still remains relatively affordable, with some brands going for 10 RMB ($1.60) a pack.
The Chinese Association on Tobacco Control estimates that there are 316 million smokers in the country, with 1.5 million Chinese dying every year from tobacco-related diseases. Compare this to the study that found over 4 million Chinese were diagnosed with cancer last year. It becomes quite clear that something in the air has got to change.
Let’s hope this at least puts an end to smoking toddlers.
By Seamus Gibson
[Images via Fried Dough]
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