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Spitting Image: Cabbies on Notice
    2007-01-18 09:18:31     Shanghai Daily
The city's push to stamp out spitting in public is having mixed success.

While Shanghai residents have generally heeded the no-spitting plea in the interests of health and manners, many taxi drivers seem to have missed the message, and are continuing to spit out their windows.

A survey, conducted last year by Health Promotion Campaign officials, revealed the anomaly, authorities said yesterday. And the solution, they said, is in the bag.

"Taxi-driving is a special job," said Ni Yanhua, an official with the Shanghai Health Promotion Committee.

"For many short-stay visitors to Shanghai, taxi drivers may be among the few locals they make contact with in town. In that sense, they shape part of the visitors' first impression of our city.

"For health concerns - as well as keeping a good image for Shanghai - we think we should make efforts to help some cabbies kick the spitting habit."

The city's health promoters are having thousands of paper bags produced, specifically for spitting into, and will send them to taxi companies free of charge.

It is hoped that the 45,000-plus taxis in town will soon carry the bags.

Cabbies will be encouraged to hang them in a convenient place for usage.

Ni said the committee sees the bag production as a long-term project.

"We are expecting the paper bags to work more as a reminder for cabbies to keep up good health behavior," she said.

The city's taxi administration said it supports the idea, and will distribute the bags.

"I think the drivers could also provide the paper bags to passengers when necessary ... it's a good idea," said Zhao Zhen, an official with Dazhong taxi fleet.

To test the results of a three-year government-initiated campaign that started in 2006 to promote healthy and civilized public behavior in the city, the promotion committee sent observers to 10 districts across town.

Spitting, probably the country's most notorious bad public habit, became a focus.

The investigators observed 70-plus randomly selected busy public spots, such as parks and Internet cafes, both at the beginning and end of last year.

The results showed that the average number of spitters per 30 minutes in these areas, compared with previous surveys, declined from 164 to 46. However, reports from observers and the public pinpointed cabbies as being repeat offenders.

By Dong Zhen
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