Chinese government has imposed a nation wide ban on smoking in indoor public places with an aim to reduce the toll of cancer patients in the nation. With rising prosperity, a sharp increase in number of smokers has been observed in China. Smoking is a common sight in closed areas like waiting rooms, cafeteria etc.
The regulation, issued by the Chinese ministry of health, bans smoking in places such as hotels, restaurants, theatres and waiting rooms at railway stations and airports. Most workplaces are not included. The new set of laws does not specify any penalties for smokers who breach the ban or place owners who let them smoke. Instead, they say owners should put up conspicuous non-smoking signs, promote non-smoking zones and designate staff members to tell customers not to smoke.
However, the efforts to curb the smoking habits of people have always hindered by the influence of highly profitable tobacco industry. The tobacco monopoly is state-owned and, according to state media, as much as one-tenth of the country's tax revenues come from the industry.
Every year tobacco kills more than a million people in China. Research by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control found that smoking-related diseases killed 1.2 million Chinese people in 2005 and predicted the death toll would rise to 3.5 million by 2030. Studies suggest that hardly one-fourth of the population is aware of the health risks. The latest regulation is a step to reduce the number of smokers in China, but will the penalty free ban be as effective as it is aimed to be?