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Get tough on cigarette sales

kid smoking

Last updated: March 13, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

Although it is illegal to sell cigarettes to minors, some stores are flouting the law.

Store owners argue that it can often be difficult to work out whether or not a customer is under age from their appearance. Therefore, the Tobacco Control Office should issue a directive saying that shopkeepers should be allowed to demand to see customers’ identity cards if they want to buy cigarettes.

This could curb the trend of minors being able to buy tobacco in stores. Also, the penalties for people who intentionally sell to minors are too lenient. We need tougher laws and punishments.


Recession forces cocaine gangs to move into the booming illegal cigarette market

contraband tobacco

First published: February 22, 2010

Source: Irish Times

THE SMOKE SMUGGLERS: In the second part of our series, Crime Correspondent CONOR LALLY looks at the role of former republicans and organised crime gangs in the counterfeit cigarette industry

WHEN GARDAÍ and Customs officers staged a major raid on suspected cigarette smugglers in Monaghan last November they found something there weren’t expecting.

Instead of the usual large boxes of cigarettes – either fake imports or legitimately produced smokes on which import duties had not been paid – the authorities found evidence of a very sophisticated operation.

A search of a truck parked in a yard in smuggling country near Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, yielded enough tobacco, cigarette paper, filters and packaging for 12 million cigarettes.


HM Government Smokefree Future

HM Government had just published the document call a Smokefree Future. Click here to download the paper.

Canada government seeks to avoid tobacco liability

OTTAWA, Reuters

10th Feb, 2010

* Tobacco wants Ottawa to share responsibility for costs

* Ottawa wants to overturn decision on possible liability

– The Canadian government asked the Supreme Court this week to overturn British Columbia court rulings that could force it to share financial responsibility for damages caused by tobacco use.

The tobacco industry successfully got the British Columbia Court of Appeals to rule in December that the federal government should be a third-party defendant, meaning it may have to share in possible any liability that may result from lawsuits against the tobacco industry.

The British Columbia provincial government, for instance, is suing the tobacco industry for billions of dollars in health care costs. Another case is a class action by smokers against British American Tobacco’s (BATS.L) Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd. The claimants allege they were misled into believing cigarettes labeled mild or light were safer to smoke.

The tobacco industry has long argued that government should share in any responsibility for damages because they were partners in the sale of tobacco by keeping it legal and collecting tax revenue from it. And they argue that Ottawa pushed them to promote light cigarettes.

The government filed its application to the Supreme Court of Canada on Monday asking the court to hear an appeal.

Several of Canada’s provinces have sued the industry for billions in damages, but the main British Columbia case — based on legal action by U.S. states — was filed first and is being used as the lead case in the Canadian courts.

Rob Cunningham of the anti-tobacco Canadian Cancer Society, said the federal government should not be asked to pay for tobacco costs.

“The tobacco industry is the cause of the wrongs and the tobacco epidemic, and they shouldn’t be trying to shift responsibility onto someone else,” he said. (Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Peter Galloway)

Blitz operations against smoking offence in FEHD venues


Hong Kong (HKSAR) – The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) and the Tobacco Control Office (TCO) of Department of Health jointly carried out a blitz operation at the Cooked Food Centre of (1)Shek Wu Hui Market tonight (September 28). Joint blitz operations were mounted at the Cooked Food Centres of (2)Lockhart Road Market and (3)Pei Ho Street Market and (4)Woosung Street Temporary Cooked Food Hawker Bazaar last week. A total of five Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issued during the operations.

Indoor areas of public markets and hawker bazaars under FEHD have been designated as no smoking areas and authorised public officers of FEHD, in addition to officers of the TCO, are empowered to issue FPNs to smoking offenders under the Fixed Penalty (Smoking Offences) Ordinance which took effect on September 1 this year. “Apart from monitoring the situation of no smoking areas in markets and hawker bazaars and taking enforcement action on a daily basis, we would also mount joint blitz operations with the TCO to enhance the deterrent effect as and when necessary,” a spokesman for the FEHD added.

Source: HKSAR Government – 


If 5 FPN smoking tickets issued in 4 different sites is a ‘Blitz’ then proper enforcement should be termed ‘Selective Enforcement by the Hypocritically sensory affected non willing trouble avoiders’



Official must apologise for union slur, say smoking-ban enforcers

Ng Yuk-hang, SCMP

A group of unionists has demanded an apology from the director of food and environmental hygiene for questioning their legitimacy and “stepping on labour rights” in a speech about enforcing the smoking ban.

About 10 unionists protested yesterday at the department’s office in Admiralty against director Cheuk Wing-hing, who said this month that workers who failed to enforce the smoking ban could be disciplined.

Cheuk also urged the public “not to be misled by the requests of some unions that had unknown membership”.

FEHD Staff Rights Union chairwoman Li Mei-siu said it was disrespectful that Cheuk accused them of having an unknown number of members, apparently questioning how representative it was.

“We are a proper labour union and went through proper registration,” she said, adding that they had immediately sent protest letters but had not received a reply.

Li said Cheuk’s warning of disciplinary action was shattering unions’ effort to fight for more rights. “The government should be a role model for all employers, but now they set a bad example,” she said.

The row between unionists and the department began with the extension of smoking bans on September 1. Among the new provisions, 700 staff from the department, 2,200 from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and 430 from the Housing Department are responsible for issuing HK$1,500 fines to people caught smoking in places under their management.

But some workers are unwilling to enforce the ban, citing safety and workload concerns.

A department spokesman said it had not received any resignations or requests to change jobs but would continue to communicate with the unions.

He confirmed that on September 5, a worker was slightly injured by a smoker when enforcing the ban in a wet market.

As of yesterday, the department had made 108 verbal warnings and fined four people.

Unions see red over enforcing smoking ban

Ng Yuk-hang, SCMP

More than a dozen unions have pledged to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department that they will enforce the smoking ban, its chief said yesterday, though union leaders disputed that claim.

Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene Cheuk Wing-hing said that he had met the heads of 13 of the department’s unions, representing more than 5,400 civil servants, and that all leaders had said they would implement the law. The department has 16 unions.

His claim comes after seven representatives from the department’s two staff unions marched to the Legislative Council’s complaints division on Tuesday to file a complaint about being made to enforce the ban. A union leader present at yesterday’s meeting with Cheuk said that some unions had made clear their opposition towards enforcing the ban.

But Cheuk said that it was only “individual groups” who were unwilling to perform their new duty.

“Civil servants in their right mind will implement the new law,” he said.

A failure to perform duties could lead to disciplinary action or even termination of employment.

The smoking ban was extended on Tuesday. Among the new provisions, 700 staff from the department, 2,200 from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and 430 from the Housing Department are responsible for handing out fixed-penalty tickets of HK$1,500 to those who smoke in places under their management.

Wong Wah-hing, chairman of the hawker control team sub-union at the Government Frontline Employees’ Union, said that a number of unions had told Cheuk that they were against the smoking ban. “We have too many things to do and do not have enough manpower,” he said.

Li Mei-siu, chairwoman of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s Staff Rights Union, which also expressed unwillingness to perform the new duty, was not invited to the meeting.

Days before the ban was extended, Li demanded an increase of manpower and subsidies to assist in performing the extra task.

Cheuk said yesterday that such demands were “not up to the spirit of the times” and “would not win acceptance from citizens”.

“We cannot agree on increasing manpower, especially when we are talking about slimming the civil service at this time,” he said.

He said there were 104 wet markets and cooked-food centres, so increasing staffing would mean a boost of several hundred people.

“The public should not be misled by a group with unknown membership,” he said.

Li said her union represented about 90 staff, but they were voicing concerns for over 200 staff, who in a survey done last year expressed worries over personal safety in the course of enforcing the smoking ban.

The department gave verbal warnings yesterday to offenders, but did not issue any fixed-penalty tickets. Cheuk said it was because both staff and citizens needed time to adjust to the new law, and that “enforcement would be stepped up in about a month”.

The leisure department had given 435 verbal warnings as of 5pm yesterday. Its head, Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee, said that enforcement had been smooth. She hoped that staff would be “co-operative” and active in enforcing the new law.

The Tobacco Control Office issued 14 tickets yesterday. The Housing Department issued none.

Staff too busy to enforce smoking ban, say unions

Regina Leung, SCMP

Two unions representing government workers said on Wednesday their members were too busy to hand out fixed-penalty tickets to people violating Hong Kong’s anti-smoking laws.

Their comments follow the extension on Tuesday of anti-smoking laws to include 48 public transport interchanges, bus terminals, wet markets, beaches and housing estates.

Some 2,200 staff from the Leisure and Cultural Service Department, 700 from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and 430 from the Housing Department are responsible for enforcing the new penalties.

But the Leisure Service Staff General Union and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s Staff Rights Union, said its members could not perform these extra duties because they did not have sufficient manpower.

However, Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene Cheuk Wing-hing said most of his staff had assured him they would not ignore their new duties.

“There is no truth to the allegations that our staff will refuse to do this work. There are 12 staff unions – which represent about 5,400 staff – involved in this enforcement work,’’ he said.

“All of them have pledged to stand firmly by their duties and will execute departmental guidelines when enforcing the new laws,” said Cheuk.

Cheuk said his staff had already issued six verbal warnings to offenders since the ban was extended to wet markets and public transport interchanges.

He said the department would provide training to enforcement officers.

Leisure and Cultural Services Department director Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee also said her staff had issued 800 verbal warnings to offenders on Tuesday.

Fung said the department understood union concerns about staff having too much work.

The extension of the smoking ban is part of the tough anti-smoking laws first introduced in early 2007.

They are controversial – with some organisations, such as karaokes, pubs and restaurants, arguing they will hurt their businesses.Smoking kills around 6,000 people in Hong Kong each year and passive smoking is estimated to kill around 1,000, experts say.

Is enough being done to police the smoking ban?


I do not think the law is working. Sometimes, while I am having a meal in a restaurant, I see people smoking. If I ask waiters to ask that person to stop smoking, they often refuse to do so. The reason for their refusal is understandable.

Waiters do not want to displease their patrons, and asking a customer not to smoke poses a dilemma for them.

I agree with Brad Foreman (Talkback, August 27) about learning from no-smoking laws overseas.

Owners of bars and restaurants are the only people who can supervise their premises effectively. It would be easier to implement the smoking ban if compliance was a requirement to obtain a licence. The bar owners would become the enforcers.

Sze Wah-mei, Kwun Tong

Unions tell staff not to enforce smoking ban

Paggie Leung, SCMP

A government department’s staff union has made a last-minute appeal to its members not to enforce the city’s smoking ban – which is being extended today – but to perform only their original duties.

“We’ve issued a statement to our members, urging them to do our original duties,” said Gary Cheung Siu-wing, chairman of the Leisure Service Staff General Union.

Saying that enforcing the smoking ban was not among their original duties, Cheung said there were not enough employees to complete even their normal work. Hence, they had no time to perform the extra duty.

Today’s extension broadens the ban to include 48 covered public transport interchanges; and offenders will receive a fixed penalty of HK$1,500 instead of a summons.

Starting from today, 2,200 staff from the Leisure and Cultural Service Department, 700 from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and 430 from the Housing Department will be responsible for handing out fixed-penalty tickets to those who smoke in premises and venues under their management – such as libraries, wet markets, beaches and housing estates.

Cheung doubted if they had the legal right to issue the tickets, because over 90 per cent of them still had not got the new departmental warrant card. “Because it’s an extra duty … we need to have the warrant card before we can enforce the new ban,” Cheung said.

But a spokesman from the Tobacco Control Office said staff were empowered to enforce the law whether or not their new warrant cards were ready.

Also opposing the extra duty is the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department’s Staff Rights Union. Its chairwoman, Li Mei-siu, said it would stage a demonstration in Central today before filing a complaint with the Legislative Council’s complaints division. She said staff would not be able to enforce the ban because of their existing workload and concerns about personal safety.

“It’s not our role to do smoking control,” she said. “The government has ignored our safety and requested us to do the extra job without giving us more manpower and resources.”

For its part, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said its staff – in the foreman, hawker control officer and health inspector grades, as well as market assistants – had received training and attended experience-sharing sessions. It had also issued operational manuals and enforcement guidelines.

Mok King-po, the convenor of a coalition of Housing Department staff unions, said its members would accept the new role but more manpower and training should be given.

“I also want to call on all citizens to co-operate with us, which is very important,” Mok said.

Last week, the food and hygiene department issued a guideline to frontline staff, saying they should perform their original duties before enforcing the ban. The Leisure and Cultural Services Department also said that enforcing the smoking ban would not override the current core duties and work priorities of its staff.