Fewer people are lighting up in the city's public spaces

Fudan researchers see drop in smokers at entertainment venues, restaurants and pubs.

Fewer people are smoking in some indoor public spaces in Shanghai since the introduction of a smoking ban in March last year, according to a study by Fudan University’s Health Communication Institute.

The study looked at seven types of indoor public spaces as well as eight transportation hubs in 12 districts across the city. Researchers from Fudan gathered data from about 140 locations, including office buildings, hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. Measurements and observations were conducted at each site one month before the introduction of the ban, and again one year after its implementation. 

The study found that the average proportion of smokers to non-smokers in observed venues dropped from 49 percent to 30 percent. However, the average proportion of smokers outside these venues rose from 21 percent to 39 percent.

Researchers observed the largest decline in smokers in entertainment venues, where smoking rates fell from 58 percent to 21 percent. In restaurants, smoking rates dropped from 39 percent to 16.7 percent. In local pubs, smokers fell from 78 percent to 55.6 percent.

According to a related nationwide study conducted by the institute, about 67 percent of medical professionals surveyed believe that e-cigarettes can help smokers give up smoking, despite warnings about their health risks from the World Health Organization.

The institute is calling for measures to prevent smoking outside of venues where smoking is banned, popularizing the health risks of e-cigarettes and expanding the current smoking ban, including to some outdoor spaces.

Zheng Pinpin, a professor at the institute, suggests that tougher regulations should be given to outdoor smoking sites in the future to prevent passersby from breathing in second-hand smoke. She also hopes that the smoke-free policy could be expanded to more areas and allow more people to enjoy a smoke-free environment.

Residents also show positive attitude toward the smoking control regulations and are highly aware of their importance. Many are now noticing violations of the regulations too.

According to Wang Pin, a TOEFL teacher with New Oriental School, juvenile protection from smoking is essential. “(Juveniles) are highly sensitive and vulnerable. There are several students in my class who smoke when they are under pressure. They said at the beginning they just emulate movie characters or their close friends.”

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