(May 5, 2011) Effective May 1, 2011, smoking is banned in all indoor public places in China, according the Implementation Rules of the Regulations on Health Administration of Public Places, issued by the Ministry of Health. (Text of the Rules [in Chinese], the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China official website (Mar. 22, 2011).)
Although smoking bans have been enacted in certain areas by local governments before, this may be the first time that a smoking ban has been enacted to apply throughout the country in a wide range of public places. The existing Regulations on Health Administration of Public Places define “public places” as including all hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, tea houses, public baths, hair salons, theaters, ballrooms, music halls, fitness centers, swimming pools, parks, museums, libraries, department stores, book stores, hospital waiting rooms, public transport, etc. The Regulations were promulgated by the State Council and took effect on April 1, 1987. (Text of the Regulations [in Chinese], the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China official website.)
Article 18 of the newly effective Rules states:
Smoking is banned in the indoor public places. Business operators in public places must set up prominent signs and warnings indicating that smoking is prohibited.
Smoking areas set in outdoor public places shall not be located on the passageway of pedestrians.
Any cigarette vending machine is not allowed in public places.
Business operators in public places shall promote the education on dangers of smoking to health and assign full-time (part-time) personnel to dissuade smokers from taking cigarettes. (Implementation Rules of the Regulations on Health Administration in Public Places [in English] (Mar. 10, 2011), ISINOLAW online subscription database, Reference ID No. 76699;77286 -10111855.)
China is a party to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which entered into force in China on January 9, 2006. China signed the Convention on November 10, 2003, and ratified it on October 11, 2005. (Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, WHO website (Jan. 20, 2011).) Under article 8 of the Framework Convention and according to its implementation guidelines, the Guidelines on Protection from Exposure to Tobacco Smoke, each party shall, within five years of the Framework Convention's entry into force for that party, “adopt and implement … effective legislative, executive, administrative and/or other measures, providing for protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, public transport, indoor public places and, as appropriate, other public places.” (WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (rpt. 2004, 2005), WHO website, at 8, & Guidelines, WHO website (both last visited May 4, 2011).) Although China's new Rules cover a wide range of public places, it is noteworthy that indoor workplaces are still not uniformly included.