Mongolia to pass smoking ban

Tobaccos

A majority of Mongolians like smoking cigarettes while drinking beer or after a big meal. However, Parliament adopted a strict anti-smoking legislation last week.

The new legislation prohibits smoking in all public places, especially bars, restaurants, office buildings, playgrounds, parks. It as well regards to common places in hotels, although some hotel floors will still permit smoking.

Violators of the legislation will be fines with an MNT50,000 (HK$281). Companies that permit smoking will be fined with an MNT3 million, while officials that allow smoking in their officials will get a fine of MNT1 million. The new rule becomes operational on March 1.

Smoking rates in Mongolia are a big problem, says Tsogzolmaa Bayandorj, a National Officer for non-communicable diseases at the World Health Organisation. In accordance with WHO findings gathered in 2009, 48% of Mongolian men and 7% of Mongolian women are regular smokers.

The situation with smoking has become worse during 20 years because of increased manufacturing and importation of discount cigarettes, particularly from China and Russia.

The rising generation is especially susceptible and a target for domestic cigarette makers, he said. According to a 2010 study, 23.3% of Mongolians aged between 13 and 15 smoked regularly.

One provision of the legislation focuses on shielding teenagers from nicotine addiction by prohibiting sales of tobacco products within 500 metres of any educational institution.

Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, a member of Parliament, said that tough enforcement would be key and outlined a five-month period for police and government to collaborate on proper implementation.

Oyungerel said that Mongolia is concerned about increasing smoking habits among youth and the dramatic increase of diseases connected with smoking.

Tsogzolmaa said that particular information on lung disease attributable to smoking in Mongolia was not presented, but the study pointed out non-communicable diseases.

Around Ulan Bator, Parliament’s decision was net with a mixed reaction.

At the ever-smoky 100 Per Cent Bar, customer Erkhem Oyunbayar said that this legislation is a violation of human rights. The owner of the bar, Anaraa Nyamdorj, said that his business would be adversely influenced by the new law as customers would be urged into the cold weather to smoke cigarettes, rather than stay indoors to drink beer.

He added that climate in Mongolia is harsh. There is snow for six months of the year, so it’s very tough. Smoking and drinking are both part of bar culture, and they can not be separated.

But student Enkhbayar Dambadarjaa was pleased with the new rule.

“I smoke but I consider the government’s measure is really good. Cigarette smoke always disturbs non-smokers, particularly on the dance floor or in at a restaurant,” she said. “It will be hard to stay outside for a smoke in winter.”

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