DOZENS of volunteers in blue vests were on duty at Liucheng Xintiandi, a Jiading-based shopping complex, to monitor the smoking ban.
A total citywide ban in Shanghai on smoking in public came into force on March 1. The new rule prohibits smoking at all public indoor areas and some outdoor ones.
Offenders can be fined up to 200 yuan (US$29) and restaurant owners can be fined up to 30,000 yuan for failing to enforce the ban.
Volunteers were trained by the government to monitor complaints, catch smokers and help raise public awareness of the new rule as well as the health harms of smoking.
Ding Donggen, 66, is one among the volunteers. Ding joined the network in 2012. He initially checked whether the “No smoking” signs were properly posted and maintained at specific spots when Shanghai launched a limited ban on public smoking in 2010, which covered a limited number of places, such as schools and libraries.
Ding also persuaded offenders to stop smoking at that time. “Entertainment venues, working sites of small firms and public rest rooms are where the most offenses occurred,” said Ding.
Smoking is banned at Internet cafes and video arcades but offenders there always ignored the “No smoking” signs while some offenders even smoked at corners in hospital, according to Ding. “Some shop operators usually turned a blind eye to the offenses,” he said.
Previously, it was hard for Ding to persuade offenders to stop smoking as the limited ban was not strictly enforced.
Since the new rule has expanded the restrictions to all public indoor areas and some outdoor ones and started punishing offenders and operators failing to enforce the ban, Ding put the offenses on record and reported them to law enforcement.
Ding and his co-workers hope their efforts will ensure the smoking ban works as it should.