China media: Public smoking ban

Reports say China has more than 300 million smokers Image copyright AP
Image caption Reports say China has more than 300 million smokers

Papers welcome a proposed nation-wide ban on public smoking, while urging officials to tackle pollution problems.

China has sought public opinion on its plans to prohibit tobacco advertising and ban smoking in public places, the Xinhua News Agency reports.

According to the proposed plans, the government wants to ban certain smoking scenes in films and TV shows. It also plans to ban smoking in all indoor public places and some outdoor areas like schools and hospitals.

The report notes that China has more than 300 million smokers, making it the world's largest tobacco maker and consumer.

Welcoming the proposal, several commentaries highlight the difficulties in enforcing such regulations and wonder if the rule will eventually become a "paper tiger".

"China has been talking about controls on smoking for many years, but it faced several hurdles in doing so," notes Xinhua in an article.

The article observes that some government offices are always "engulfed in smoke".

The article suggests that policy-makers, government agencies and officials have to "take the lead" in enforcing the ban.

According to the draft proposal, top officials of government agencies and social organisations will be held responsible for enforcing the ban in their areas.

Experts hope that some officials' habit of "turning a deaf ear to such bans will be stopped" this time. They also suggest that officials who smoke in their offices should be exposed.

The Beijing Times says smoking control has become an urgent public health issue.

Smog to return

Meanwhile, papers urge more efforts to curb air pollution as officials warn that smog is expected to return to Beijing this week.

Local media report that "serious air pollution" is expected to hit Beijing and several other cities in northern China on Wednesday.

Reports say Beijing residents were hoping that the city's air would remain clean after the conclusion of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) Summit two weeks ago.

Netizens had termed the short-lived blue skies during that period "Apec blue" after authorities poured in huge resources to clean up the city.

The People Daily notes that "smog is no longer an environmental issue but a social problem and even a political one". 

"There won't be any political result to talk about if the GDP continues to fatten local governments' purse, causing the people to turn hostile," it says.

Hong Kong protest

Elsewhere, some media outlets shine a spotlight on Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests as authorities in the territory begin clearing a protest site.

The activists have been on the streets since early October, demanding a free choice of leader in the 2017 election.

According to international media, protesters appeared to not be resisting the move, and some have already taken down their tents and barricades.

Hong Kong's pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao daily cautions authorities not to underestimate the "stubbornness of a handful of radical protesters".

"If the bailiffs are unable to handle the protesters and require the involvement of the police, violence may become unavoidable," says the paper.

And finally, some papers criticise India media outlets for "hyping up" tensions over a hydropower station in Tibet which started operating from Sunday.

The Global Times' Chinese edition says that the Zangmu Hydropower Station on the Yarlung Zangbo river - which is known as the Brahmaputra in India - will ease the power shortage problem in the eastern part of Tibet.

The paper blames the India media for seeing the dam as a "threat". It criticises Indian papers for saying that the station will "not only cause floods and landslides" but even "control India by cutting off the flow in the event of conflicts".

It assures that the project has followed "high level" environmental protection measures.

In a separate report in the paper, several analysts point out that India has also constructed "a few hydroelectric dams in the midstream".

"India has been criticised by Bangladesh over the construction of the dams, so it has no rights to criticise China," Qian Feng, an expert on India affairs, tells the daily.

He adds that the India media's misreporting over China's dam project reflects the "lack of trust in strategic issues between Beijing and Delhi".      

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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