Monday, 21 January 2008

Restaurants non-smoking in Taiwan, Toilets in Shanghai

SMOKE-FREE DINING: The health department called on the public to persuade restaurants to go non-smoking, and is offering prizes to people who are successful

By Mo Yan-chih
Wednesday, Jun 22, 2005, Page 2

Hoping to increase the number of non-smoking restaurants across the country to 10,000 this year, the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday invited the public to ask restaurants owners to establish a smoke-free environment.

"Since the non-smoking restaurant program was introduced in 2003, over 5,000 restaurant have registered with the DOH as smoke-free," said DOH Deputy Director Wang Hsiu-hung (王秀紅) yesterday. "This year, we invited the public to join the campaign and exercise their rights to say `no' to second-hand smoke when they eat out."

The non-smoking restaurant program's director, Han Bor-cheng (韓柏檉), said that the concept of smoke-free restaurants is a global trend, and more restaurants in Taiwan have joined the movement.

"In Ireland and Norway, legislation prohibiting smoking in restaurants has already been passed. In other Western countries, such as the US and Canada, are making similar efforts," said Han, who is also a public health professor at Taipei Medical University.

"In Taiwan, 88 percent of restaurant owners do not believe that a smoke-free environment will drive consumers away," Han said. "We are seeing progress through this program, so I think it will eventually lead to legislation banning smoking in restaurants."

While local restaurants across the country are not required to prohibit smoking, restaurants of at least 200m2 in size are required to establish non-smoking areas. Violators can face fines of up to NT$30,000 in accordance with the Tobacco Hazards Act (菸害防制法).

Wu Chi-hsiung (吳志雄), president of Taipei Medical University, said that people who eat at restaurants with designated non-smoking areas are still harmed by second-hand smoke. Only by establishing smoke-free environment can customers enjoy avoid being harmed while dining, he said.

According to DOH statistics, 93 percent of people support for a law banning smoking in restaurants. Over 75 percent would support the government if it legislated against smoking in restaurants -- and about 80 percent supported the idea of waiters asking smoking patrons not to smoke.

Since the DOH initiated the campaign two years ago, instances where non-smokers had to put up with second-hand smoke in restaurants dropped from 66 percent to 41 percent, according to statistics from the DOH's Bureau of Health Promotion.

Calling on the public to join the campaign, the bureau is sponsoring a raffle in which anyone who successfully persuades restaurant owners to make their establishments smoke-free may win up to NT$100,000.

People who are interested in participating in the program should sign up for the program, persuade restaurant owners to post non-smoking signs in the restaurant, have owners sign a pledge to make their restaurant smoke-free and fax or e-mail the pledge to program officials. They will then be eligible for prizes including refrigerators, DVD players and NT$100,000.

The campaign runs through July 31. For more information, visit the Web site or call 02-2377-7152.

In addition, people can also participate in the "Help My Favorite Restaurant Quit Smoking" promotion, by casting a ballot for restaurants they think should become smoke-free. People wishing to participate in the online vote can do so at the above Web site. Voters will be eligible for NT$500 gift certificates to smoke-free restaurants. The event runs through July 20.

One thing I've noticed so far is all the restaurants and food courts (well all the ones I've been to!) are non-smoking. This is a true joy and pleasure for me. I feel like I'm back home in Australia again rather than some 'poor' little backward Asian country.

One of the things I hate the MOST about China is the incessant smoking. Outside, inside, everywhere. I hate it because I'm an asthmatic with crappy lungs and sensitive airways, but even if I wasn't I'd still hate it. Not only do I hate the effect on my health I just hate the smell permeating throughout my hair, clothes, everything. It stinks and it's gross.

I've long thought if China cleaned up its air pollution, enforced the non-smoking indoors policy (sticking up stickers doesn't do jack), cleaned up the disgusting toilets.. it'd be a much nicer place to live. I wouldn't even complain about all the other stuff foreigners complain about such as traffic, crowds, rudeness, etc.

Not only are restaurants smoke-free in Taiwan, it is rare to see a person smoking full stop! I can't believe it. In Shanghai you can't walk anywhere outside or inside without seeing someone puffing away. And don't get me started on the atrocities inside Grand Gateway. The mall that sells big name brands - the stuff I would never be able to afford - which is supposedly non-smoking but I've seen men hiding out puffing away and then a cleaner lady comes along and picks up the cigaratte and keeps it like it's a $100 dollar bill - ew ew ew!!! And for such an upmarket mall the toilets are in an atrocious state too. Oh and I haven't even mentioned the queue cutters who just walk straight in, ignore the queue of women waiting and then go to the first available toilet!

I was very pleasantly surprised how far Taiwan has come in the world of toilets. There are far fewer squat toilets and more Western style toilets and they are spotlessly clean and they even have a shelf for your belongings, and (OMG!) provide you with toilet paper too. There is nothing worse than having nowhere to put your bags of shopping (no hooks, no shelf, nothing) while you are also hiking up your pants to go to a squat toilet, hoping to God your pant hems don't touch the disgusting, wet, dirty floor! Ew!

I will write more in detail but I am loving Taiwan (except the mosquitos who have eaten me alive). It is more like Japan rather than China. It is like a congested, smaller, messier, cheaper version of Japan - haha. :)

PS I am leaving Kaohsiung now. This is the last time I'm going to have internet access in my bedroom. My huge room with a queen size bed, own bathroom, lovely 4 storey house and grandma that does everything for me (she doesn't let me do anything!) and I never have to worry about food/meals/eating, the place that allowed me to finally be rid of my insomnia and start to get better over my sinusitis and bronchitis! Not to mention it is 17-27 deg C here vs 14-17 in Taipei. I will be very sad to be leaving this nice place and my grandparents but alas I will always have the good memories :) Now I now have to go to Taipei to visit my other grandparents.

1 comment:

Amyee said...

I loved the non-smoking environment too but not everywhere. You are lucky in Kaoshiong and Taipei too are big cities with more regulations - they still smoked everywhere else in Tainan and Hualien and all those smaller cities...