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Should the US Follow China’s Lead — and Ban Eating, Drinking, and Poor Behavior on Subways?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


China — not exactly known for laid-back, relaxed laws — recently added another policy to its books. Eating, drink, and any “uncivilized behavior” are officially banned nationwide, starting April 1, 2020. (Pay attention, all you mileage runners going through China! 😉 )

I don’t exactly hate what China’s doing with the new rules. And, frankly, it might be interesting if the United States considered something like it.

Eating & Drinking

“Eating and drinking on the subway has long been a contentious issue in China,” writes China Daily‘s Wang Xiaoyu. “While many have expressed annoyance at the scent and sight of food and wrappers in train cars, quite a few also support the right to munch on snacks during long commutes to work or school.”

Food odor and pollution apparently seem to be the heart of the issue.

“I am all for it, and those who eat smelly food on the subway should be severely punished,” said a microblogger, according to the South China Morning Post. The news outlet reports that opponents argue “they desperately needed the time on subway to eat their breakfast or snack.”

The New York Post adds babies, young children, and folks with medical conditions are exempt from the statue’s eating and drinking bans. (Oh, boy. Here comes Emotional Support Food.)

Behave Yourself!

So what boorish activities constitute “uncivilized behavior”?

Lying down and manspreading are two, the Post reports. (Oh Mylanta. I shudder to think what Chinese lawmakers would impose on offenders of Rene’s list of his passenger pet peeves.)

Also banned: playing videos or music on speakers. And stepping on seats.

Tourist is using MTR train in Hong Kong for Transportation concept.
A tourist waits for the MTR train (©iStock.com/the.epic.man)

What’s the Punishment?

According to China Daily (via Fox News), violators “will have it marked on their personal credit score, developed by the Chinese government in order to assess its citizens’ ‘social credit’ based on their reputations and behavior.”

That’s certainly some motivation to mind your Ps and Qs.

What About in the United States?

Some cities — such as Washington, D.C. — already prohibit eating and drinking on their subways. But on perhaps the country’s most famous subway system, eating food onboard is a “time-honored tradition.”

“(New York subway) riders regularly carry slices of pizza onto trains and munch on bagels while bolder passengers openly dine on heaps of pasta or Chinese takeout,” writes the New York Times‘ Emma G. Fitzsimmons. “Anything goes, even if fellow passengers are annoyed by the smells,”

New York MTA rules prohibit riders from using sound devices when train announcements are being made, though I’ve never seen it enforced.

What Do You Think?

I see both sides — but favor the “ban eating, drinking, and bad behavior” sentiment. I hate being in confined spaces with people who insist on consuming smelly food. (This goes for airplanes, too!) On the same token, people have to eat. And you can’t really enforce what is and isn’t smelly food, since some criteria is subjective.

However, I’m all in favor of people being fined for blasting their shows, music, or games while not wearing headphones. My gosh, I would love to see someone issued a citation for that.

There is a special place in Hell for these cretins. People who can afford a mobile device can also afford a cheap pair of headphones.

Should more food-beverage consumption and behavior laws be put on the books in the US? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share them in the below Comments section.

–Chris

(Featured image: BEIJING, CHINA – MARCH 12, 2016: People ride the subway. Beijing Metro has become the main transport of Beijing residents. Passengers in Beijing metro. Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Askolds)

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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4 Comments

  1. Barry Graham Reply

    It already is banned in DC and I don’t like the ban, especially on drinks like coffee. I’d rather see them enforce the ban on loud noise, pretending to be music, coming from headphones on trains and buses.

  2. Eating, drinking, smoking, loud music and photography all are banned on NY subways as well. Nobody cares. The rules are meaningless unless they are enforced. China will probably enforce them though.

  3. Barry Graham Reply

    Chris, I am glad you researched that because I was pretty sure it wasn’t true. It’s kind of scary how someone can say something and if not challenged, it becomes the new truth even when it isn’t. Another way of describing fake news, I guess.

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