Spitting in public has become socially reprehensible - and even criminal -in many parts of China as public health authorities struggle to curb the spread of SARS.
Many public health workers feel their work has become easier, with fewer phlegm marks found in most roads in Hefei, capital of Anhui Province.
In the city, anyone who spits in public will be fined 20 yuan (US$2.41) according to a latest regulation on public hygiene.
One Hefei resident surnamed Li said, "If I see someone spitting in the street, I immediately criticize them. Social habits have not developed as fast as urban construction and these acts are an eyesore."
In Beijing and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, public spitters will have to clean up the phlegm marks and pay a fine of 50 yuan (US$6.02). The fine goes up to 200 yuan (US$24.1) in Shanghai.
Guangzhou has also set up cameras in the streets to catch public spitting.
China's battle against SARS had forced Chinese to reconsider on individual behavior and provided an opportunity to keep more hygienic habits, said Wang Kaiyu, of Anhui Academy of Social Sciences.
Heated discussion has been carried out on the Internet, television, radio and in newspapers.
The current alert on public spitting would remain for generations in individual behavior patterns, said Wang Kaiyu.
Standards of daily behavior for middle school students request students cultivate healthy habits and prohibit public spitting, littering, smoking and drinking.
(Xinhua News Agency May 17, 2003)