Enforcing the latest set of smoking restrictions in the Chinese capital has proved tough, so WeChat rolled out an app that will allow Beijingers to upload pictures of those who ignore smoking regulations in an effort to clamp down on the habit. The latest restrictions on the Beijing's 4 million smokers were imposed June 1.
The Shanghaiist blog reported the municipal government set up a public account on WeChat called “No Smoking Beijing.” The account includes a lot of features, including anti-smoking videos as well as the newest regulations. Additionally, it allows people to submit photos of people smoking in banned environments not just to shame smokers, but to hold establishments accountable for enforcing the bans. For those who don’t have WeChat, the city set up a temporary hotline where people can report establishments failing to enforce no-smoking laws.
Previous anti-smoking laws have been ignored because most establishments were willing to turn a blind eye to paying customers who insist on lighting up. Now, venues that allow people to smoke face a possible 10,000 yuan fine, just over $1,600. The Beijing Health Inspection Institute found one-in-three public venues were in violation of the new indoor smoking ban and were issued warnings to start enforcing the new laws. While restaurants were the biggest offenders, Hong Kong’s Phoenix news found major medical institutions were also allowing people to light up despite the ban.
The ban, introduced by anti-tobacco advocates, prohibits smoking in offices, on public transportation and at restaurants to wean people off of tobacco. According to the World Health Organization, China reportedly is home to more than 300 million smokers, and every year there are at least 1 million tobacco-related deaths and an additional 100,000 deaths as the result of second-hand smoking.