On Monday, On Monday, Beijing got smoking banned. The city was swarming with red-uniformed volunteers, campaign signs and banners promoting a healthier environment by curbing the habit of smoking.
China is the world’s largest tobacco consumer, and authorities have finally given in and heard the cries of health activists asking for more severe restrictions on smoking. On Monday, their dream has started becoming reality.
Air polluted by cigarette-smoking has taken an alarming death toll on the population nationwide, so China is considering implementing further anti-smoking regulations.
Beijing is working under new rules, which states that whoever smokes in hotels, restaurants, hospitals, schools and in certain outdoor public places, will be fined with 200 yuan ($32.25). It might not sound like much, unless we find out that the previous – rarely enforced – penalty was 20 times lower than the new regulation.
Besides enforcing a monetary fine, individuals who are found to violate the ban more than twice will also be publicly shamed on a government website. Businesses might find their names up there, too, if they fail to keep their venues smoke-free – along with up to 10,000 yuan ($1,600) in fines.
Smoking is tightly intertwined in the social fabric of China, causing a large-scale health crisis; more than 300 million Chinese are smokers, and millions other are exposed on a daily basis to secondhand smoke. And it’s no wonder, since it is incredibly cheap to sustain this habit – a pack of cigarettes costs less than five yuan (80 U.S. cents).
Beijing authorities are taking this health threat very seriously, organizing on Sunday a huge event promoting the ban. The famous Bird’s Nest Stadium, the one built back in 2008 for the Olympic Games, was dressed in giant banners displaying a no-smoking sign.
In public places and in some local restaurants, the ban has already received support and enforcements in the form of no-smoking signs where the new rules were laid out.
Even though the nation has tried curbing the dangerous rates of smoking before, citizens believe this time people and businesses are definitely going to comply with the policy. While some restaurants don’t allow smoking at all on the premises, others didn’t stop customers from lighting up a cigarette at outdoor tables.
Security guards places in public places, such as parks and public squares, have been given instructions to forbid people to smoke in the area. But even though the ban has officially started today, they still give some leeway.
Image Source: China Daily