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Just for fun: Beijing Smoking Ban: Day 1 by the numbers

On Children’s day, June 1, 2015, Beijing began to enforce its new stern ban on smoking in public places. The number of smokers in China has been on the increase over the past several years, but the capital has decided to lead the way in controlling the problem.

Many questioned how effective such regulations would be given the prevalence of smoking, but local media reported a shock and awe style enforcement strategy on day one of the implementation with 1007 dispatches of enforcement officials (persons/time). Legal Daily gave a detailed breakdown of their initial impact data, which has been put in chart form below.

tableBefore even considering how successful the enforcement was , it’s interesting to consider this breakdown of types of units that were inspected. The choice of inspection sites reflect decisions as to where initial enforcement should begin, responding to goals of both increasing awareness of the new rules and responding to most urgent needs

spotcheck sites



It’s probably important that hotels got and medical facilities got all that attention, but what happened to restaurants and entertainment venues? Finding a smoke free eating environment in Beijing is a huge issue. “Other” seems well covered, and while it wasn’t broken down, we can assume it includes areas mentioned in other parts of the report, such as parks, transportation hubs, and office buildings.


So how did they do?


Of the 565 places inspected, only 147 had violations. Of those, 146 received warnings (the other one is accounted for in the data). The numbers look a little low and I urge those of you in Beijing to make your own casual survey of facilities you visit during the day for comparison, but LEAVE ENFORCEMENT TO THE PROFESSIONALS. Restaurants are a notable exception, where 82% had not complied with new rules. Imagine if more than 3% of inspections were at restaurants!

It’s important to realize that inspection of these venues for compliance wasn’t just to try and catch smokers, but was also to find locations lacking appropriate signage, including information on the anti-smoking informants’ hotline (12320).

The hotline itself saw considerable use receiving 565 total calls, which can be summarized as follows:


Most of the calls were “policy” oriented, probably concerned parties asking about the new regulations– no surprise there. A few folks even called in to learn about the harms of smoking, — Great! The remaining 23% of calls were reports of violations, a key component of the anti-smoking campaign’s enforcement strategy, and can be further broken down by location as follows:

hotline reports


The first call to the hotline came at 8:08 A.M. , just minutes after it went live, from a materials company reporting that employees were smoking in the breakroom. The regular staff and management were unable to control the situation so called in the anti-smoking squads!

Artist’s Rendition of a Smoker Practicing His Trade

First Blood:

The first (and only) fine given on D1 did not arise from the early morning call mentioned above, but from the a CDC facility. At approximately 8:30 A.M., a male heading to the Changping District Physical Examination Center to obtain a health certificate was observed smoking in the stairwell. Enforcement officials were called and he was told to immediately cease the offending conduct, and given a fine of 50 RMB [about $8 USD]. While only one person was fined, 54 were given verbal discouragements– fair warning as this is only D1 of the offensive!

Haidilao: First Blood Part II:

The first official warning and correction order given to an establishment was issued at 10:00 A.M. to a branch of a popular hotpot restaurant Haidilao (海底捞). The restaurant had failed to put up signs in their lobby and restroom reminding customers that smoking was prohibited and informing them of the hotline. Further investigation revealed two cigarette butts in the trashcan of a men’s restroom. The establishment was given a warning and told that enforcement officials would return in 2-3 days, by which time, if corrections were still not made, a fine of at least 2000 RMB ($322) would be issued.

Below is an actual photo of this enforcement first taken from Xinhua and available here.



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Jeremy Daum is a Senior Fellow of the Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center, based in Beijing, with over a decade of experience working in China on collaborative legal reform projects. His principal research focus is criminal procedure law, with a particular emphasis on protections of vulnerable populations such as juveniles and the mentally ill in the criminal justice system, and is also an authority on China’s ‘Social Credit System’. Jeremy has spoken about these issues at universities throughout China and in the U.S.; and has co-authored a book on U.S. Capital Punishment Jurisprudence for Chinese readers. He is also the founder and contributing editor of the collaborative translation and commentary site, dedicated to improving mutual understanding between legal professionals in China and abroad.
He translates, writes, edits, does web-design, graphic design, billing, tech support, and social media outreach for China Law Translate.

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