Three people were arrested and detained after being caught smoking in two downtown open markets.
From Chengdu Commercial Daily (in translation):
Can smoking in a market be such a great offense? Will you actually be punished for it? If you think all that will happen is that the market's security staff will give you a warning, or, at the worst, impose a small fine, well, you're wrong and your thinking is very "dangerous." The day before yesterday [Sept. 22], three people were smoking inside the market when they were arrested and detained by police and fire-safety law-enforcement officials. It was reported that since the implementation of a new law banning smoking in public places, these are the first arrests made by the Jinjiang District police.
At 9:55 on the morning of Sept. 22, the Jinjiang District fire squad and the Renmin Dong Lu local police were conducting a fire-safety check in the Xin Zhongxing Square market. When they arrived at shop 211 on the first floor, they found two young female customers sitting inside a shop chatting and smoking. In the past when police had approached, they never paid any attention. Only when an officer pulled out a camera to document the evidence did the two start to realize they were in trouble and started to leave. "Don't tell me smoking a cigarette is against the law?" the women allegedly said while being taken to the police station. At 4 p.m. the same day, the Chunxi Lu division police arrested another smoker during an inspection of the Shangmeicheng Mall at the west section of Chunxi Lu. When the police informed him he was being detained for smoking in the market, the man was flabbergasted.
The three underwent investigation at the police station and it wasn't until they were told to sign their names on the detainment forms that they finally became aware that by smoking in the markets they had broken the law.
Jinjiang District Fire Squadron vice captain Chen Fugui stated that the three arrestees were in violation of line 63 of the new "Fire Ordinance" which stipulates: It is in violation of the law to smoke or use a flame [such as that of a lighter] in any public location where there is risk of flammability, fire, or explosion. In the case of such a violation, the suspect will be detained for a maximum of five days.
The women each received five days' detainment while the man received three.
"Mainly to scare and warn the smokers" replied vice captain Chen in response to why such a severe penalty is being imposed. Previously when law-enforcement officials came across smokers in public places usually they would issue a warning or at the worst fine the offending party, which proved to be ineffective. The decision to implement uniform penalties came into effect August 20.
During the National Holiday period, management offices of all public shopping centers and markets will be required to post "No Smoking" signs.
The reporter conducted a brief survey of passersby near the Xin Zhongxing Plaza last Tuesday afternoon. At the shop in which the two female customers were arrested for smoking, the shopowner said that when the police came she too had not paid any attention. But when she stepped out of the shop, she didn't see the two customers who had just been sitting there. And when she heard they had been detained for smoking she was shocked.
At Shangmeicheng Mall, the reporter found the nephew of the man who had been arrested. He said that at the time of his uncle's arrest, the man had no idea that smoking was grounds for arrest.
The reporter then interviewed about a dozen smokers at Chunxi Lu. Nearly all of them said that they were not aware that smoking in a market is against the law, or that it was a serious enough offense to warrant arrest and detainment. "A warning or small fine is enough, five days of detainment seems a little heavy," said city resident Mr. Wang. But city resident Mr. Linghu said that the penalty for smoking in a public place should be the same as that for driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, detainment of 15 days in order to "better teach a lesson to those who don't value life!"
The first two cases of people being detained for smoking illegally occurred in September 2007, when two men were found smoking in the Chengdu Fuhe Qiao Wood Market in the Jinniu district.