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Beijing considers ban on smoking in Olympic venues

Source: Xinhuanet | 03-12-2007 16:55

Special Report:   2007 NPC & CPPCC sessions
Special Report:   2008 Beijing Olympics

BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Beijing is considering a ban on smoking in venues for Olympic Games, said the city's vice mayor Liu Jingmin, in a response to a political advisor's concern about unbridled smoking behavior in public places.

"The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) is discussing with the Health Ministry to set aside special smoking areas in the game venues so as to ensure most part of these venues free of tobacco smog," Liu said.

Zi Huajun, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said in a proposal that some Beijing residents smoke wantonly, regardless of where they are or what occasion they are facing.

"Smoking are often seen in places with clear non-smoking signs," said Zi, adding that even some CPPCC members and deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC), who are here attending the two bodies' annual sessions, brushed aside signs warning against smoking in public places.

High-end restaurants and hotels should put restrictions on smokers, but few of them have yet divided special smoking areas, she said.

Liu Jingmin noted that the Olympic Games, the most important sports event China has ever hosted, is not only a test of the nation's infrastructure and facilities, but also a demonstration of its people's ethics and manners.

A tobacco-free Games is always on top of the agenda for China's preparations for a green Olympics.

In last May, the Ministry of Health promised to ban smoking by the end of 2007 at all hospitals that would be used specifically for the Games.

The ban will also be extended to public transport and public buildings, specifically places offering services to children, the ministry said.

The concept of a "non-smoking" Olympic Games, initiated in 1988, was put into practice in Barcelona in 1992.

But it remains to be an arduous task for Beijing. It is estimated that 350 million people, about 26 percent of the country's population and a third of the world's smoking population, are hooked on nicotine.

China reports about one million deaths from smoking-related diseases each year, and the figure is expected to triple by 2050.

The Beijing organizers, however, have a big incentive to rectify discourtesies. Other drives include the clean-up of vulgar wording, anti-spitting patrols, etiquette lessons for hotel staff and English training for taxi drivers and police.


Editor:Li Yang