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China Must Fully Enforce Public Smoking Ban, Even in Train Stations

A commentator calls for thorough implementation of the ban, including the closure of smoking rooms in railway stations

By Xu Mouquan Updated Jan.29

China has started a nationwide ban on smoking in indoor public places. Li Guowei, a commentator, called for thorough implementation of the ban, including the closure of smoking rooms in railway stations, in an article for Shanghai-based news portal The Paper. 
In his lawsuit against Zhengzhou East Railway Station in Henan Province, Yin Qingli, a lawyer, claimed that “smoke is very thick near the smoking room, and passengers who do not smoke will feel uncomfortable when passing by.” He said that smoking rooms violate the smoking ban included in the Detailed Rules for the Implementation of the Regulations on Public Places Hygiene Management (“Detailed Rules”).
However, the Zhengzhou Railway Transportation Court deemed the smoking room as legal, citing the Regulations on Smoking Prohibition in Public Transport and Waiting Rooms implemented on May 1, 1997. The court also ruled for the station to use “modern technological means” to strengthen management of the smoking room and prevent smoke from spreading to public areas.  
The commentator questioned whether “modern technological means” would shield non-smokers from smoke. He also cited a study conducted by the Hong Kong University of Technology shows that ventilation and designated smoking areas do not protect public health.  
In 2018, the “civilized smoking campaign” started by China’s State Tobacco Monopoly Bureau was met with criticism from the World Health Organization (WHO), who pointed out that the established smoking areas and smoking rooms had become a new place for marketing from tobacco companies. Such promotion methods are illegal under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. 
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control stipulates that indoor public places, workplaces and public transport should be completely smoke-free, and no indoor smoking rooms or smoking areas should be available. As a party to the Convention, China should follow the relevant regulations on tobacco control. 
Domestically, the Detailed Rules, implemented in 2011, bans all forms of indoor public smoking. The regulations cited by the local court dated more than 20 years ago and should have been replaced by new rules, Li argued.