May 31st was World No-Tobacco Day and it was also the last day that the Beijing government will allow smoking in public places. From June 1st, the municipal government will implement it’s “Beijing Smoking Ban” (北京市控烟条例), which will ban smoking inside all public spaces.
According to a Jiemian.com article, Chinese grassroots NGOs are hoping to play a bigger role in tobacco control nationwide. Both Friends of Nature and Yiyun (益云, 公益互联网) recently co-organized the “Put out Your Cigarette for Love” (为爱熄烟) event in support of the up-coming smoking ban. The event gained much attention and support from other NGOs. Furthermore, in previous years Chinese NGOs have been actively involved in tobacco control. For example, NGOs have persuaded the Ministry of Civil Affairs to cancel “Philanthropy Awards” that were to be given to tobacco corporations and pressurised the Shanghai Expo to return a donation of 2 billion yuan from a tobacco corporation.
Even though Chinese grassroots NGOs have been doing quite a lot to support tobacco control, the article points out that they still face many problems. One of the biggest problems that NGOs are facing is that they don’t have enough financial support. Without financial support, it’s hard to find people to help out with events associated with tobacco control. Another problem is that NGOs don’t usually get their voices heard by the government and this makes it hard for NGOs to make a difference.
The Jiemian.com article hopes that the new Beijing regulations, coupled with stronger help from NGOs, will make China’s anti-smoking campaign more effective.