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One of the world's fastest growing cities, Shenzhen in China, introduced new legislation on 1 March 2014 to protect its seven million citizens from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.

The smokefree law, which bans smoking in indoor public venues, was launched with a comprehensive public education campaign, and followed by active enforcement. The strategy was coordinated by the city's Tobacco Control Office and supported by The Union.

Gan Quan, Director of The Union China Office in Beijing said: 'Evidence shows that in order to be effective, new tobacco control legislation must be actively enforced from the word go. Easy access to clear educational material in tandem with zero tolerance is an excellent and strategic beginning. Shenzhen's Tobacco Control Office should be applauded. This offers a clear example to other regions considering smokefree.'

Public awareness campaigns on the harm caused by tobacco use ran in healthcare facilities, schools, government buildings and on public transport in the months leading up to the ban. Signs and posters about the new law were also displayed around the city. Radio, print and digital media highlighted the launch, and an event on 1 March attended by Shenzhen's mayor and municipal secretary gained additional coverage on television.

Active enforcement of Shenzhen's new smokefree law has taken place throughout the last month, with seven city departments (including health, police and public transport) now mandated and mobilised to inspect thousands of venues for compliance. During a two-week period, one agency alone visited 732 locations, fining 561 offenders and raising a total of 28,050 RMB (approx. US $4,500).

Some outdoor areas are also covered by the smokefree law, but bars, tea houses, discos and massage parlours have been granted a 34-month grace period. These venues must become 100% smokefree by 31 December 2016 and must offer non-smoking rooms in the meantime.

Gan Quan said: 'China has the greatest number of smokers in the world, an estimated 300 million adults, with another 700 million exposed to second-hand smoke. Significant progress in tobacco control, like we are seeing in Shenzhen, will have a huge impact on the global tobacco epidemic and the misery and suffering it causes.'

Shenzhen's Non Communicable Disease Centre is leading tobacco control development in the city and has been funded by grants from the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use and partnered with The Union for the last four years. With the support of the Shenzhen People's Congress it formed the Tobacco Control Office. This office developed and issued guidelines on smokefree law enforcement and media advocacy. It also runs training courses for health professionals, law enforcers, media relations officers and volunteers.

 

 

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