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Work report on the enforcement of Shanghai Smoking Control Law

The Shanghai Municipal Information Office held a press conference on March 1 to report on the enforcement of the city’s Smoking Control Law. Following are the highlights:

Li Zhongyang, deputy director of the Shanghai Patriotic Health Campaign Committee

Xinmin.cn:I remember that the first fine made in Shanghai after the Smoking Control Law was enacted was in the small commodities market on Fuyou Road. Our reporter made secret investigation in that market several times afterwards and found the situation didn’t improve. I want to know what steps you will take to make the law more effective?

Li Zhongyang:We have spots for monitoring all over the city. The problem is most serious in the Internet bars, entertainment venues and restaurants. Marketplaces are also under our supervision. We will strengthen smoking control based on reports from the public and the media and in cooperation with relevant government departments.

Shanghai Legislative News:You just said the number of smoking violations and the number of interventions were the same in 2010 and 2011. Do you have new measures to improve the situation in 2012?

Li:Shanghai’s 2011 smoking control report shows that the rate of interventions in non-smoking areas actually declined. It has something to do with the city’s widespread anti-smoking campaign, particularly the campaign to promote a smoke-free World Expo in 2010, which proved quite effective. According to domestic and foreign experiences, particularly the experiences of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, education through mass media and public ads can play a powerful role in smoking control. Therefore, we will try to get more media support to run anti-smoking ads.

Also this year we will take other measures, such as mobilizing more cigarette-control volunteers. By the end of last year we had registered 1,170 volunteers and we plan to increase their number in the first season of this year. Every district and county will add at least 50 volunteers to patrol local communities and the number of volunteers in public venues will also be increased. According to our work plan, the total number of volunteers will surpass 2,000 this year. You can check this in our 2011 White Paper on Smoking Control.

We will also conduct a survey with Eastday.com to find out public opinions about cigarette control. If the feedback is good, we will conduct such survey regularly, perhaps every season.

Secondly, we will continue to strengthen routine law enforcement. This is crucial for maintaining the authority of the law. The Municipal Food and Drug Administration has made it a target to eliminate smoking in restaurants this year.

Thirdly, we will extend anti-smoking education to some target groups, such as employees working in public places and to women and teenagers. It is an important task for us. We are considering to cooperate with some government departments and social groups to curb the increase of the city’s smoking population.

China Daily:I have two questions. First, public feedback indicates that our law enforcement is not strict enough to deter smokers in public places. Have you thought about introducing tougher punishment in the future? Second, apart from the law, will you consider introducing some technical methods to ban smoking?

Li:The law has statuary limits for punishment. Our first action is to persuade people to stop smoking. Only when persuasion fails can we hand out punishment. Police are also responsible for implementing the smoking law, but they are too busy as an average police station in Shanghai receives more than 100 calls a day. So we need to explore a coordinated law enforcement system that involves both police and volunteers. Relevant departments are discussing it now.

We will first draw a list of Internet bars and assign volunteers to patrol them. This will take some burden off the police and save the government money.

Then we will single out Internet bars with serious problems and give the list to the police. The police will take over the patrol of these bars from our volunteers.

Finally, we will publish a list of venues for public supervision. Internet bars that are warned and ordered to make corrections will be listed. Our volunteers will monitor them and if their problems remain, the police will punish them according to the law.

At the same time, health organizations and police units will train Internet bar owners in smoking control.

The Yangpu District Health Promotion Committee has already cooperated with the local police department and launched a cigarette control week on February 27.

As for the technical methods, some experts suggested installing an automatic smoke detector in no-smoking places. If smoke density in the room reaches a certain level, it will sound an alarm.

We are also considering to use technical methods to show people the harms of cigarette smoking in our education program.