On November 25, Beijing approved its strictest anti-smoking legislation yet. The latest in a series of crackdowns beginning in 2008, this anti-smoking measure will ban smoking in all indoor public places, workplaces and public transport vehicles. Xinhua News reports it will be effective as of June 1 next year. After that date, those who are caught smoking in designated smoke-free areas will be charged up to 2oo RMB.
The legislation also comes down hard on advertisers. Tobacco advertisements will face a blanket ban – they will no longer appear “outdoors, in public places and transport, as well as in media including radio, TV, films, newspapers, books, and internet,” according to Xinhua News.
One of the measure’s more specific sections states that teachers won’t be allowed to smoke in front of primary and secondary school students, and schools are required to educate students about the harms of smoking. Doubtless, these provisions were added due to rising concerns that cigarette companies deliberately advertise to children. Sales of cigarettes to minors will be further discouraged through fines and penalties. This is a major step for China, since as recently as 2012, a tobacco museum dedicated to smoking and patriotism was a popular field-trip destination.
Since China’s previous efforts to deter smoking have had limited effectiveness, many netizens are skeptical about the enforcement of the law. A similar ban in 2011 was so poorly enforced that over 40 percent of people had never heard of it at all. The motivation to reduce tobacco stales isn’t always strong throughout China. Anti-smoking legislation is used implemented on a city-by-city basis. As one law professor explained to China Daily,
“The GDP of some cities rely heavily on the cigarette industry. At the same time, the demands for tobacco control vary among different cities. Big cities with a high population density are more eager to ban smoking, while the second and third-tier cities mostly have less incentive on tobacco control.”
Currently, 24 percent of Chinese smoke – about 350 million people, making it the world’s largest tobacco consumer. It’s also the world’s largest tobacco producer – 42 percent of all cigarettes are made in China. About 1 million Chinese people die from smoking-related diseases each year. Smoking has become so entrenched in China’s culture that one book of pickup artist tips suggests asking men for their opinions on smoking. Despite this, a few well-publicized stories on quitting smoking have found their ways into the hearts and minds of Chinese.
Check out the changes that are happening to regulations in Beijing.
Image courtesy of Tormod on Flickr (X)