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Pacific China Enforces First-of-its-Kind Law To Ban Smoking In Public


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
by Ananth Krishnan

No mention of penalties for breaking the regulations

The first thing Wang Shuying did after exchanging wedding rings was to whip out a cigarette lighter. Her first act as a newly-wed was to light a cigarette for her husband, following a widely prevalent modern Chinese tradition where brides embark on married life by helping the groom and his best men light up. The unusual wedding practice points to the ubiquity of smoking in Chinese society, where the practice has wide cultural acceptance and is rarely frowned upon in a nation now home to the world's biggest smoking population.

But starting this Sunday, brides like Ms. Wang will no longer mark their weddings in a puff of smoke — at least in theory, according to a first-of-its-kind law to ban smoking in public. This week, China will take a small — and for many, a long overdue — first step in attempting to stub out the nation's addiction, by banning smoking in all enclosed public places, including hotels, restaurants, railway stations, wedding halls and hospitals — in China, even waiting rooms and toilets in hospitals are not out of bound for smokers.

The Ministry of Health said starting this week, business owners would be required to set up “conspicuous non-smoking signs” as well as carry out promotional activities to warn people of the dangers of smoking.

While the ban marks an important signal from a government that has been reluctant to clamp down on a lucrative industry, critics of the new law say it lacks teeth — the law does not mention penalties that business owners and customers who break the regulations will face. In China, awareness of the harmful effects of smoking remains low — the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates less than 25 per cent of people are aware of its harmful effects. Yang Gonghuan, Deputy Director of the CDC, told state media this week that he believed the regulation was “hastily enacted,” and by failing to specify punishments for violators, enforcement and supervision would likely remain inadequate.

While the Chinese government ratified the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control eight years ago, it has been criticised for failing to meet targets and inadequate implementation. According to the WHO, smoking-related diseases kill 1.2 million Chinese every year.

China's tobacco consumption has risen from 589.9 billion cigarettes in 1978 to about 2.3 trillion in 2009, according to the China National Tobacco Corporation, a State-run enterprise that in 2009 brought in $77.3 billion, as much as 7.5 per cent of the government's revenue. According to a CDC report, more than 300 million Chinese — 28 per cent of the population — inhale a regular diet of cigarettes, while more than 740 million, including 182 million children, were exposed to second-hand smoke in China last year.

Many remain sceptical whether the new law will be enforced tightly enough to curb the widely prevalent habit.

“There are too many smokers in China, so it is hard to see restaurants enforcing it,” said Hanbing Chen (25), a student at a Beijing university who has been a smoker for seven years. Mr. Chen pointed to a 2009 regulation requiring Chinese restaurants set up designated smoking areas. Two years on, it is rarely enforced. Even on Saturday evening, few restaurants in a popular Beijing dining district had any arrangements in place to enforce the regulations.

Others say smoking is too deeply ingrained in modern Chinese culture to be stubbed out by new regulations. “Whether it is Chinese cinema, television shows, or even in the fashion industry, smoking is still portrayed positively,” said Wang Minghua, who works as an agent for a modelling agency in Beijing. He said he started smoking in high school, where the practice was common, perceived as a “masculine” trait. “You had to smoke to fit in,” he said. “And that won't change.”



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Gyani Jarnail Singh

Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
Jul 4, 2004
Latets statistics from Punjab....LEGAL LIQUOR sold in Punjab last year was 80,000 Kror rupees worth..Equivalent to total debt of Punjab to central govt (for fighting terrorism !!)
8 Billion Rupees...up in smoke every 12 months..and this doesnt count the collateral damage..deaths, hopsital bills, econmic losses etc etc...



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