The city is seeking more effective ways to prevent smoking in Internet bars and other entertainment venues, which are the least likely to comply with the ban on cheap Marlboro cigarette smoking in public places. A report released by the health promotion committee under the Shanghai municipal health bureau at a news conference on March 1 showed that last year 66 establishments and five individuals were fined more than 157,000 yuan ($25,000) for violating the city’s anti-smoking law.
Under the anti-smoking law, which took effect on March 1, 2010, public venues, including hospitals, schools, bars and restaurants, are required to establish designated non-smoking areas and put up signs prohibiting smoking.
People who ignore smoking bans are first warned by supervisors, and if they refuse to stop smoking, are fined 50 to 200 yuan. The report said Internet bars were the worst places for complying with the law, followed by entertainment venues and restaurants.
Li Zhongyang, deputy director of the municipal health promotion committee and deputy inspector of the municipal health bureau, said several reasons are to blame.
“Employees there lack systematic education and training. They know less about the harm of smoking and passive smoking,” she said.
“Some Internet bar operators choose to turn a blind eye to the smoking because they worry they would hurt their business if they prevented smoking,” she added.
Li said the next step is to adjust measures and make supervision plans according to different characteristics of public places.
Aside from Internet bars, cultural and entertainment venues are also lax in complying with the smoking ban.
In 2011, 36 of the 66 places fined for violating the rules were cultural and entertainment venues. They were fined a total of 98,000 yuan. In addition, the operators of some restaurants relaxed the rules to draw business.
“If diners are sensitive to smoke, we will provide a place for them where there are fewer other diners who can disturb them. But there is no no-smoking section,” said Xu Zhenghua, the manager of Hunan Cuisine Restaurant, in Yangpu district.
“Smoking is inevitable,” said the operator of Le Taotao restaurant, on East Tiyu Road, in Hongkou district. “We just close an eye to some diners smoking.” Opposite the man was a no-smoking sign.
Earlier last week, the Shanghai municipal health promotion committee teamed up with other government agencies to launch a week-long supervision initiative on compliance with the smoking ban in public places.
“The first day’s inspection showed that restaurants have established non-smoking areas, and fewer people were smoking there compared with the period during the first month after the public smoking ban took effect,” Gu Xiping, the committee’s press officer, told China Daily.
But she quickly added that things were not good in Internet bars.