Smoke-free Restaurants are getting popular

Update:04 Jun 2007

The vast majority of customers and employees surveyed at 33 restaurants in downtown Shanghai said they are in favor of the idea of banning smoking or setting up non-smoking areas in eateries around the city, the Shanghai Patriotic Health Campaign Committee and Fudan University's Public Health College announced Wednesday, ahead of today's World No Tobacco Day.

In response to the survey, health authorities in the city say they will launch a program to promote the establishment of non-smoking areas in restaurants along Nanjing Road later this year.

"Since the law doesn't ban smoking in restaurants, our task is to intervene and educate restaurants to do so, especially after finding a majority of customers also like a non-smoking environment," said Zhu Jianlin of the health committee.

Of the 33 restaurants surveyed, only two ban smoking and eight others have non-smoking areas. More than 82 percent of the 284 customers surveyed in the eateries said they would like to see restaurants ban smoking or set up non-smoking areas, however.

About 70 percent of the 44 restaurant managers agree with the idea of launching smoking-control measures while only 6.5 percent said it is unnecessary. Several said they worry business will be hurt if they don't allow customers to smoke while eating.

About 75 percent of the 242 interviewed waiters and waitresses said they would be in favor of smoking control policies, as more than 90 percent said they suffer from passive smoke during work. Moreover, 60 percent of them said they have received complaints from customers about passive smoke, but few of the waiters said they would take any action to stop the smokers.

Duan Fugen, an official at the Shanghai Restaurant Association said it will be a long and gradual process to promote non-smoking areas.

He noted many small restaurants only have one dinning room, so it is almost impossible for them to set up a useful non-smoking area.

Saizeriya on Wanhangdu Road just set up a non-smoking area last month, said waitress Lian Wenjuan.

"More customers start to care about other diners in the same restaurant such as pregnant women and children and stop smoking," she said. "We also get to benefit from a cleaner environment."

There are more than 350 million smokers in China. About 540 million Chinese suffer the effects of passive smoking and more than 100,000 of them die annually.


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