City smokers still flouting ban in public indoor spaces

Inspections reveal that lobbies and elevators in residential buildings, entertainment venues and restaurants are the places where smoking indoors happens most.
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Shanghai Health Promotion Commission officials talk to a security guard outside the Huijingyuan community’s security cabin after a complaint about smoking in the lobby. 

Lobbies and elevators in residential buildings, entertainment venues and restaurants are the places where smoking occurred most in the past year, according to Shanghai Health Promotion Commission, the major government body that runs the campaign against smoking in public indoor places.

After the ban came into effect on March 1 last year the commission launched a series of inspections to examine how the regulation was being carried out and whether people had become aware of the harm of smoking indoors.

In one recent inspection, a team was sent to the Huijingyuan residential community on Shaanxi Road S. after a complaint about a security guard smoking in the lobby and the smell of cigarette smoke in the elevators.

Liangyu, the property management company, was fined 2,000 yuan (US$315) and was ordered to fix the problem.

During a second visit, Zhong Yi, Liangyu’s manager, said it had made it a routine to patrol the neighborhood to see if anyone was smoking in a public indoor place.

“Our guards and people who live in the neighborhood were told to smoke either in the open or at home,” said Zhong. “One of the major problems are deliverymen and upfitters from outside who often smoke in an elevator.”

Tang Qiong, head of the city’s health commission, said the goal of such inspections was not to punish anyone, but to raise public awareness of the harmful effects of smoking.

At another two residential communities, officers found no trace of smoking inside. But one of them, Poly West Bund Center on Wanping Road S., had no signs or posters reminding people not to smoke. It was ordered to put up posters as soon as possible.

The latest survey by the commission found that while more people realized the importance of not smoking indoors — with more than 90 percent of 34,383 people surveyed supporting the ban — fewer people would stop others from doing so.

“It is not an irrelevant regulation to those who do not smoke,” said Tang.

“One gentle dissuasion can make a lot of difference.”