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    Shanghai Residents Worry Smoking Ban Has Little Chance of Success

    As China’s big-city governments hope to make public spaces more welcoming to all, residents are skeptical about whether the new regulations can actually be enforced.

    Following in the footsteps of capital Beijing, Shanghai has passed new regulations banning smoking in indoor areas such as office buildings and public transportation and outdoor areas at youth-designated spaces and certain hospitals. Beginning in March of next year, individuals who violate the regulations will be fined up to 200 yuan ($30).

    However, while most Shanghai natives welcome the update to existing smoking regulations, they are also skeptical of whether the comprehensive measures can be achieved in a such a short time.

    In a residential lane in Shanghai, a man in a blue jacket told Sixth Tone, “Tobacco is lucrative,” referring to the state-run China National Tobacco Corporation, which has a monopoly on the industry. “You want to profit but also supervise — that’s so difficult.”

    When asked about the best way to enforce the new smoking restrictions, a young man out for a walk with his girlfriend said: “Fine them. Spank them and that sort of thing.”

    As the world’s largest tobacco producer, China has an especially high proportion of smokers among its population, said National Health and Family Planning Commission spokesman Mao Qunan at a press conference on Nov. 7.

    According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the country has around 316 million smokers. In addition, the World Health Organization has reported that 740 million Chinese — more than a quarter of these being children — are exposed to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke at least once a day.

    Additional Reporting by Wu Yue and Tan Xiaoyi.

    (Header image: A passenger lights a cigarette on a train as he heads to his hometown for the Lunar New Year holiday, at Shanghai South railway station, Feb. 4, 2016. Reuters/VCG)