Tianjin, China, has recently experienced a shift in firecracker regulations, moving from a period of prohibition to a partial lifting of restrictions. This change has been met with mixed reactions, reflecting the balance between cultural celebrations and public welfare concerns.

While the relaxation of the ban has been welcomed by many during festivals like the Spring Festival, it has also created challenges in terms of supervision and enforcement. Safety concerns and noise pollution have emerged as significant issues, leading to growing tensions among different groups in society.

The ongoing discussion around firecracker regulations in Tianjin highlights the importance of finding a balance between traditional celebrations and the need to protect public safety and the environment. It remains to be seen how the authorities will navigate this complex issue in the future.

0. Foreword

I live in Tianjin,China, which was trial implementation city for the prohibition of firecrackers in the past few years. With the easing of the COVID-19 pandemic, people’s enthusiasm for celebrating festivals has continued to rise to a higher level, so they received a lifting of that ban at the turn of 2022 and 2023. More and more firecrackers were seen and heard during the Spring Festival, and most people felt happy and excited with that.

The lifting of that ban isn’t a complete release, but a relaxation with different sites and times. But bacause of the complete prohibition before, people’s enthusiasm for setting off firecrackers is much stronger than ever before. The supervision is getting increasingly difficult. The time of writing this article is the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month, which is the “Little New Year” (the day similar to the Spring Fesitival when people celebrate before the Spring Festival), the firecrackers haven’t stopped from 00:00 on this day until right now, even though there is still a complete ban issued by the Office of the Safety Production Committee of local district.

Apart from the safety problems connected with firecrackers, the noise pollution is also a negative effect that cannot be ingored. More and more people say they have been affected by undesired firecrackers noises at different times. The contradiction between different groups of people who hold different attitudes towards firecrackers is going to intensify. Hence, in order to avoid falling into the vicious cycle of “once supervise leading to death” and “once release leading to chaos”[1], a discussion of the balance between the prohibiton and the release of firecrackers does have its meaning.

1. Introduction

1.1 Understanding of Firecrackers

1.1.1 The Sorts and it’s Impacts

With the development of firecracker craftsmanship, the common types of firecrackers in China can be divided into two types: one is solely for making explosive sounds, we call it “Sounds Type”, the other is for creating visual impressions(or, ornamental ones), and we call it “Visual Type”. “Sounds Type” usually has no limitation on when it can be set off, whether day or night, and can make huge explosive sounds, which are believed by people that can ward off the bad things around them and bring good lucks. “Visual Type” not only creates a visual perception, but also emits loud accompanying noises, determined by the nature of the firecrackers themselves. And for a better impression, it is usually set off at night, inevitably having a noise impact on many people who do not want it.

1.1.2 Common Occasions for Setting off Firecrackers

With time’s development, and a improvement of the quality of residents, people’s choices of setting off firecracker have become more and more civilized. In the post pandemic era, common occasions that still need firecrackers are included these few items:

The whole Spring Festival period, which is a time range from a very early day around one months before New Year’s Eve(NYE), to a very late day around one month after NYE. The setting off behaviors have two characteristics: concentration and dispersion, which as time close to NYE, it gets more concentrative from dispersed, and as time away from NYE, it gets dispersed again from concentrative.

Private commemorative occasions, which including wedding, funeral, etc. These occasions usually don’t have specific time, and usually not exhibiting characteristics of a concentrated scale. That means it won’t make a huge negative impact on the enviroment, or on other residents. Instead, it will sometimes become a little unexpected colour in life. Feng Jicai, a famous writer from Tianjin, also wrote an article in Tonight News Paper, advocating the display of fireworks and firecrackers as a way to promote traditional ethnic culture and Tianjin’s customs[2].

1.2 Survey on Previous Management Measures

1.2.1 Measures and Advantages

Previous management, primarily led by the local government, was mandatory and Effective[2]. It typically controlled two aspects: banning the sale of fireworks and prohibiting their use. In Tianjin, they regulated: Selling fireworks and firecrackers is prohibited in areas where fireworks and firecrackers are prohibited[3]. They also designated a series of distinct areas where firecrackers were not permitted, graded according to different levels of restriction.

Indeed, this approach had its advantages, including environment protection, noise reduction, and safety. With these stringent regulations in place, we do see a more clear sky during the festival, and have a more quiet and peaceful vacation during the festival.

1.2.2 Disadvantages

However, it is a very strict regulation, which means it often conflicts with the wishes of the majority people, needing a long and continuous effort. But as the easing of COVID-19 pandemic at the turn of 2022 and 2023, local governments relaxed the regulations. People’s enthusiasm for setting off firecrackers has reached a extremely high level. Consequently, subsequent management became exceedingly challenging.

Also defined by firecracker’s nature, it is highly mobile and difficult to track. This flexibility often prevented law enforcement officers from discovering illegal activity in a timely manner. All these factors, combine to create significant disadvantages in terms of supervision and enforcement.

2. Advice on Management

2.1 Combinations of Release and Regulation

2.1.1 Meanings

Absolute strict management clashes with people’s wish, but completely release also leads to chaos and hidden dangers. Only by striking a proper balance between these two extremes, can we make the most effective efforts, achieving substantial and sustainable management outcomes.

2.1.2 Specific Pratice

Specific Aera and Time Period. Maintain former relevant regulations, but introduce more specific conditions. For instance, we can continue to strengthen strict control during regular periods, so as to emphasize the importance and rarity of the fireworks discharge during festivals. Designate more setting off and non setting off areas, and further enhance the mobility and flexibility of the police force in these areas, so as to ensure that “the places that should not be set off will not be set off, and the places that can be set off will be set off in accordance with the regulations”.

Implement a Hierarchical Reporting Mechanism. For small-scale individual setting off behavior, adhere to specified times and areas. For medium and large-scale setting off behavior, the relevant departments shall accept the report in advance for review and filing. They should determine the specific time, place and personnel size. Relevant departments shall assess the safety and enviromental protection of the palnned set off while accepting reports.

2.2 Optimization of Firecracker Features

For the Visual Type, sounds are often not a necessary element when setting off. To enhance the explode process, it is good to reduce the noise of the Visual Type, which can mitigate the disturbance to other residents while still creating a striking visual impression. Alternatively, we can also narrow down the range of sound propagation of the Visual Type, bring both visual and sound impressions for those who set off firecrackers, while minimizing the impact on those who prefer a quiter enviroment.

Addressing pollution issues across whatever different types of firecrackers is a challenging and costly endeavor. By increasing the investment of craftsmanship of firecrackers production, we can aspire to make firecrackers more acceptable to the government, to the environmental protection field, and to the environment itself. However, an optimization of firecrackers craftsmanship also means a higher price throughout the firecrackers industry chain, which will ultimately be reflected in the consumer’s purchasing decisions. Therefore, it is crucial to strengthen relevant publicity, to make it more acceptable to consumers [as discussed in section 2.3.1 of this article].

2.3 Strengthening Publicity

2.3.1 Guide people towards purchasing more environmentally friendly firecrackers

Guiding people towards purchasing more enviromentally friendly firecrackers could alleviate the strain on enviromental protection efforts when restrictions on firecrackers are lifted. A comprehensive understanding of this issue reveals that it largely depends on people’s own awareness of environmental protection. This means that we should strengthen the penetration of environmental awareness in educational curricula, workplaces, and other facets of daily life, so as to effectively manage firecrackers display through propaganda or publicity.

2.3.2 Rational consumption, on-demand setting off

Some people buy a lot of firecrackers and set off them to display thier advantage in wealth, which fostered an unhealthy culture of comparison and excess through fireworks and firecrackers. Thus, publicity of rational consumption is indeed needed. We must let people have a more clear recognize towards firecrackers culture, and let them know the negative side of setting off too much firecrackers. An ideal state is that people have a relatively reasonable setting off demand, and could follow the relevant regulations, promote traditional culture at the same time.

2.4 Improvement of the Sales Process

2.4.1 Restricted Sales Quantity

In addition to targeting the purchasing end, regulatory measures can also be effective during the sales process. For example, we can tell to the operator to set a limited amount of buying firecrackers for each individual. This approach promotes rational and on-demand consumption in a more forceful way, ensuring that excessive purchases are curbed at the point of sale.

2.4.2 Enhancing Product Traceability

Previous analysis has highlighted the challenges posed by the difficulty in tracing illegal firecracker use. To address this, we can adopt various methods such as requiring real-name purchases and standardizing the serial numbers of firecrackers. These measures will help make the sales and purchase process of firecrackers more standardized, facilitating easier supervision and traceability. By implementing these regulatory measures, we aim to strike a balance between traditional celebrations and environmental protection, while also ensuring public safety.

With the joint effort by deparments, operators and consumers, we can build a more clear enviroment in firecrackers management.

3. Conclusion

Firecrackers have long been a symbol of Chinese celebratory culture, deeply ingrained in the hearts of the Chinese people. Simply for the sake of enviromental protection or other reasons, a “blanket ban” on all setting off behaviors is highly challenging, impractical, and unsustainable. Finding a balance in managing firecrackers is crucial for maintaining cultural heritage while protecting the environment, ensuring that the measures are acceptable to the majority.

In the post pandemic era, extra new challenges have emerged in firecracker management. People are increasingly focused on their own emotional well-being and desire to lead vibrant lives within a rapidly paced society. They are more attentive to regulations that directly impact their daily lives, necessitating a more human-centered approach to management implementation. Responding to the genuine needs of the people, also included young people, is paramount.

This article mainly conveyed a discussion on firecrackers management’s previous problems, and offered suggestions for imporvement that the author believes have its practical significance. However, due to time constraints, we are unable to conduct more extensive and comprehensive investigations and research. Our understanding of people’s attitudes towards setting off firecrackers remains limited, necessitating further exploration and study in the future.

4. Acknowledgements

I would like to express my gratitude to all the individuals who have set off firecrackers, whether which woke me up in the early morning, startled me on a very quiet road, or disturbed me every night as I sat in front of my desk and trying to read something, forcing me to put on my headphones and turn on noise reduction mode. Your actions have served as a constant source of inspiration and motivation for me to delve deeper into this topic. WITHOUT your “tremendous contribution”, I might not have had the continous power to finish these lines.

In any case, I wish all of you a joyful and peaceful festival, unencumbered by any other troubles. May your celebrations be filled with happiness and free from any disturbances, including those caused by firecrackers.


[1]胡印斌. 纠偏“一刀切”,禁炮也别“一放就乱”[J]. 民生周刊, 2024, (01): 9.