Fri, Jul 16, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Jianguo flower and jade markets to ban smoking

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Jianguo Flower Market and Jade Market will become Taipei City's first smoke-free commercial district on Saturday.

The city's Department of Health listed the two markets, which are open on Saturday and Sunday in parking lots under the Jianguo Overpass, as non-smoking areas after growing complaints about second-hand smoke in the popular weekend destination.

“The Jianguo flower and jade markets are always crowded with visitors and many people wanted us to ban smoking in the markets although it's a semi-outdoor area. I think the policy has the support of majority of the people,” Huang Chiu-yu (黃秋玉), deputy director of the department's health management office, said at Taipei City Hall yesterday.

People caught smoking in the markets will be fined between NT$2,000 and NT$10,000, according to the Tobacco Hazard Prevention and Control Act (菸害防制法).

The act, which took effect last year, bans smoking at indoor facilities designed for more than three people, such as government offices, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, Internet cafes and karaoke bars.

School campuses, stadiums, or any public outdoor venue frequented by children and teenagers are also required to abide by the policy.

Taipei City banned smoking at 24 municipal parks shortly after the act took effect to showcase the city's determination to establish a non-smoking environment. The Jianguo flower and jade markets will be the first semi-outdoor business area in the city to be smoke-free.

Jianguo Business District Management Association director Chang Chia-ming (張家銘) said a poll conducted by the department showed that more than 82 percent of residents said they supported a smoking ban in the markets.

More than 90 percent also said that a smoking ban would increase their willingness to visit the markets, Chang said.

Chang said more than 800 stall owners have agreed to cooperate with the new non-smoking policy, and the association will send volunteers to patrol the markets and promote the policy.

Huang acknowledged the difficulty of fining violators, as it required solid evidence, including photos and the full name of violators. Nonetheless, she encouraged shoppers to inform stall owners or call Taipei Citizen Hotline at 1999 to report violators.

The city government will also ban smoking at exhibition sites during the Taipei International Flora Expo, which will begin in November. Smoking rooms will be installed at the sites, the department said.

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