Sat, Jun 06, 2015 - Page 5 News List

Crescent Bridge to have smoking ban

A BRIDGE TOO FAR?The ban is expected to extend to other New Taipei City bridges by the end of the year. Many residents welcome it, but some smokers say it is unreasonable

By Lai Hsiao-tung and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Smoking will be banned on Crescent Bridge (新月橋) in New Taipei City starting on July 1, and the ban might apply to other pedestrian bridges citywide if the policy proves a success, the New Taipei City Public Health Department said.

The bridge, which connects the city’s Sinjhuang (新莊) and Banciao (板橋) districts, is a local tourist attraction that on holidays sees more than 1,000 pedestrians and cyclists, department deputy director Lin Chin-fu (林金富) said.

Violators of the ban will be subject to a fine of between NT$2,000 and NT$10,000 under the Tobacco Hazards Act (菸害防制法), he said.

Heightened inspections on the bridge will be enforced in peak hours on July 1, following a one-month public information campaign starting on June 1 that would see volunteers publicizing the smoking ban at either end of the bridge, he said.

The ban is expected to extend to other landscape bridges in the city by the end of this year, including Lover’s Bridge at Fisherman’s Wharf (漁人碼頭情人橋) in Tamsui District (淡水) and Bitan Suspension Bridge (碧潭吊橋) in Sindian District (新店), he said.

Smoking ban signs were placed at the entrances to Crescent Bridge, and smoke-free areas were marked with red lines, he said, adding that the policy has received positive public feedback.

New Taipei City resident Ko Hsin-chung (柯信忠) welcomed the ban, saying that smoking on the crowded bridge affects public health and non-smokers’ rights, and that cigarette litter fouls the environment.

“A nationwide smoking ban should already have been imposed,” he said.

A resident surnamed Chang (張) said that the smoking ban would benefit tourism, because she keeps away from smokers on the bridge to avoid secondhand smoke when taking a stroll with her grandchildren.

However, a regular smoker surnamed Lai (賴) said that smoking is a matter of personal freedom, and prohibiting smoking on Crescent Bridge — a public space — is not reasonable.

He said that the department has not done its job to safeguard food safety, but interferes with smokers’ rights instead.

The city government bans smoking in 362 public places, including parks, sidewalks, city hall, streets, train stations and bridges, and conducted 761 inspections at those places over the past year, collecting NT$70,000 in fines from 58 violations, Lin said.

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