Despite years of campaigning by health activists,
China is the world's largest consumer of cigarettes and smokers can
be spotted everywhere, even in schools and hospitals.
But with a huge public health burden looming ever larger, China has
recently intensified efforts to stamp out smoking.
The State Council, or cabinet, is aiming for a nationwide ban on
smoking in public places this year, and several cities have already
introduced anti-smoking regulations.
But critics say authorities only enforce bans sporadically, if at
all, and it is common to see people puffing away in front of no
The latest ban, imposed by the Ministry of Education, covers
kindergartens, elementary and middle schools, and vocational
schools. Universities must set up smoking areas and forbid lighting
up in academic buildings.
Anti-tobacco efforts have been hampered by the country's powerful
tobacco monopoly, health campaigners say, which pays hundreds of
billions of yuan in taxes every year.
Critics say another problem is that it is not clear who is
responsible for punishing violators of cigarette bans, meaning
officials often just turn a blind eye.
Schools can no longer seek sponsorship from cigarette brands or post
tobacco advertisements on campus, the ministry said in a notice.
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School principals must enforce the ban by installing smoke alarms
or surveillance cameras to spot offenders. School canteens must also
stop selling tobacco.
Schools that do not crack down properly will be punished, the
As part of the battle against smoking, the government had earlier
urged Communist Party cadres and government officials to stop
smoking in schools, workplaces, stadiums, and on public transport
and elsewhere to set a good example.
(Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; editing
by Robert Birsel)
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