China has banned cigarette smoking in schools, state media reported on Wednesday, the latest attempt in a government drive to kick the country’s pervasive tobacco habit.
Despite years of campaigning by health activists, China is the world’s largest consumer of cigarettes and smokers can be spotted just about everywhere, including schools and hospitals.
With a huge public health burden looming, China has recently increased their efforts to decrease cigarette smoking.
The State Council, or cabinet, is aiming for a nationwide ban on smoking in public places this year, and several cities have already introduced anti-smoking regulations per FOX News.
But critics say authorities only enforce bans periodically, if at all, and it is common to see people lighting up a cigarette right in front of a no smoking sign.
The latest ban, imposed by the Ministry of Education, includes elementary, kindergarten, middle, and vocational schools. Universities must designate smoking areas and forbid smoking in academic buildings.
Anti-tobacco efforts have been tampered by the country’s powerful tobacco monopoly, health campaigners say, which pay hundreds of billions of yuan in taxes each year.
Critics say another issue is that it is not clear who is responsible for punishing those who violate the cigarette smoking ban, meaning officials turn a blind eye.
Schools can no longer seek sponsorship from cigarette brands or post tobacco advertisements on campus, per the Ministry of Education.
School principals are expected to enforce the ban by installing smoke alarms and surveillance cameras to spot offenders. School canteens also are prohibited from selling tobacco.
Schools that do not crack down properly will be punished accordingly, the ministry said.
As part of the battle to decrease smoking, the government had earlier urged Communist Party cadres and government officials to stop smoking in schools, workplaces, on public transportation, and elsewhere to set an example.