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Hong Kong stubs out entertainment smoking

Tom Qian, Shanghai Daily – 2009-6-23

HONG Kong will ban smoking at places of entertainment from next month, China News Service reported today.

The venues include bars, club houses, nightclubs, bathrooms, massage parlors and mahjong rooms. People under the age of 18 are forbidden to enter these entertainment venues, according to laws in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The regulation takes effect on July 1.

Smoking rooms will not be set up in these venues as each room costs 300,000 yuan (US$43,879), the Hong Kong Tobacco Control Office under Department of Health said.

The Hong Kong government banned smoking in public, excluding these six venues, on January 1, 2007. Smoking is banned in all restaurants, offices, parks, beaches, schools and colleges, hospitals and elevators. Offenders can be fined up to HK$5,000 (US$645).

The number of smokers in Hong Kong last year was 754,800, a drop of 2 percent since the introduction of the ban, Liu Wenwen, chairman of smoking and health committee said.


2009-06-09 17:34:18 来源: 中国新闻网(北京) 跟贴 13 条 手机看新闻
中新网6月9日电 据香港媒体报道,香港控烟办表明,酒吧、会所、夜总会、浴室、按摩院及麻雀馆等6类娱乐场所,将如期在下月1日实施全面禁烟。
吸烟与健康委员会主席刘文文表示,2007年实施禁烟后,全港食肆收入上升13%,吸烟人数减少2个百分点。 (本文来源:中国新闻网 )

Quit Stalling On Smoking Bans

SCMP – Jun 15, 2009

The continuous debate about the delay of the smoking ban in all public places is preposterous. In recent visits abroad I see that even in Bangkok, Taipei and Kaohsiung smoking bans are in place in restaurants, bars and clubs.

I am all for smokers’ rights, as long as they do not burden the subsidised public health care system when tobacco-related sickness develops and, more importantly, that they do not exhale all those toxins into a confined space where non-smokers are present. When the rights of smokers infringe on the rights of non-smokers, therein lies the problem.

There must be no exemptions and the government must implement the full ban on schedule.

Billy R. Leung, Chai Wan

Government Communicates With Listed Establishments On Full Indoor Smoking Ban

HK Gov press release – June 4, 2009

A spokesman of the Department of Health (DH) said today (June 4) that a smoking ban at six types of listed establishments – bars, clubs, night-clubs, bathhouses, massage establishments and mahjong-tin kau premises – would take effect on July 1 in accordance with the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance.

The same as those of other indoor public places, staff and customers of these listed establishments would be protected from hazards of passive smoking, the spokesman said.

As in the past, the authorities would adopt a multi-pronged approach which comprised publicity, education, persuasion, and enforcement to implement the smoking ban and appeal for the co-operation of the management of relevant establishments.

“Since early this year, the Tobacco Control Office (TCO) has, via various channels, including sending letters to the management of these six types of listed establishments and meetings with the trades’ representatives, explained to the trades the relevant measures and reminded them of the upcoming expiry of the more-than-two-year exemption from the smoking ban.

“Starting last month (May), TCO organised a number of workshops to assist the trades to understand the full implementation of the indoor smoking ban as well as the specific measures. So far, a total of 132 people have enrolled in nine of these workshops,” the spokesman said.

Management of the listed establishments where the smoking ban would be implemented were invited to participate in seminars on the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance to acquire a better understanding of the relevant statutory requirements. If necessary, staff of these establishments could also join the smoking cessation seminars organised by the TCO to quit early, he said.

“Starting this month (June), TCO will distribute guidelines, posters, leaflets, logos and other publicity items on the relevant measures of smoking ban to the management of the six types of listed establishments.

The spokesman said the policy objective of implementing a full indoor smoking ban in listed establishments was to protect the health of staff and customers.

“An opinion poll conducted by the Government also showed that the majority of the public supported the anti-smoking policy. More than 88% of our population are non-smokers. We thus appeal for the co-operation and understanding of the trades in implementing this policy,” he said.

“The Government is ready to continue to maintain dialogue with the trades, and to assist both the staff and customers to adapt to the new measures,” he said.

Should The Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

SCMP – Updated on Mar 16, 2009

I wish to convey my thanks to the anti-smoking lobby in Hong Kong. It has saved me a lot of money.

Prior to the ban on smoking in restaurants, I used to have lunch and dinner about 30 times per month, spending a fortune. Since the ban has come into force, I now go to restaurants about twice per month. The supermarkets in Hong Kong have gained because of this, the hospitality trade has lost out.

It is also the Macau government that gains, because I travel to Macau to have a meal about 10 times a month, having a nice meal, cheaper than in Hong Kong, and being able to smoke. Who is the winner here? Many of my friends do the same thing.

I also believe that many criminal elements in Hong Kong also wish to thank the anti-smoking lobby; with the recent increase in tax on tobacco, they will earn a lot. Therefore, the anti-smoking lobby can be commended for providing many lucrative jobs in Hong Kong during the economic downturn, albeit illegal jobs.

I wonder if the anti-smoking lobbyists are living in the real world, especially in light of the fact that in three months’ time smoking in all bars will not be allowed.

In Britain, more than 3,000 bars have closed since the smoking ban came into effect, putting thousands of people out of work – the closures purely and simply being due to the smoking ban.

Why, in a democratic society, is it not possible for market forces to rule? The anti-smoking lobby may say that workers’ health is paramount. Fine. The majority of workers in bars and restaurants smoke, so a bar or restaurant that allows smoking should only employ smokers. What is wrong with that?

In other countries, the majority of bars and restaurants are on the ground floor. In Hong Kong, they can be on the 50th floor of a building, or in a shopping mall that requires smokers to walk for 15 minutes before they can go outside for a cigarette. I opine that all bars and restaurants in Hong Kong must be on the ground floor, providing easy access for smokers.

My previous letter about alcohol being a bigger drain on our fiscal resources still applies (Talkback, January 1). How do you compensate a family that has lost a loved one through drink-driving? Ban alcohol, I will stop smoking.

Andy Boulton, Shouson Hill

Rates Waivers, Tax Rebates To Be Unveiled, Modest Relief On Way, Says Source

Gary Cheung, SCMP – Feb 21, 2009

Modest relief measures, such as rates waivers for two quarters and tax rebates of HK$5,000-plus, are expected to be announced in Wednesday’s budget as the government opts to save cash for stormy times ahead.

A source familiar with the drafting of the budget said the administration was preparing for the worst-case scenario of a bad economy this year and next and expected to have a deficit for the next three years.

“Nobody can say whether the economy will recover next year and if we have to prepare for the worst,” the source said. “That’s why the government prefers keeping as much ammunition in its war chest as it can to cope with growing volatility in the next two years.”

The source said the government might grant fresh sweeteners to the needy after the summer if the economy continued to deteriorate.

Given the administration’s forecast of a gloomy economic outlook, the biggest sweetener to be announced by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah on Wednesday would be tax rebates of between HK$5,000 and HK$10,000, the source said. Mr Tsang was also expected to waive rates for property owners for two quarters, according to the source.

The amount of relief for taxpayers is expected to be substantially less than that handed out in last year’s giveaway budget.

In his maiden budget in February last year, Mr Tsang announced a rebate of 75 per cent of the tax payable for the 2007-08 financial year, capped at HK$25,000, and granted rates waivers for four quarters.

Job creation will be the top priority for his second budget, which will spell out the details of a one-year scheme to subsidise companies hiring university graduates as interns.

It is understood that 4,000 positions will be provided for students who complete university studies this summer and who did so last year, with the government paying a monthly HK$2,000 subsidy to local companies hiring graduates as interns to work in Hong Kong, and HK$3,000 for graduates hired to work on the mainland.

The administration will not set a minimum salary for the graduates hired as interns. But one source said firms in the scheme would have to pledge that they would not sack staff after hiring a graduate through the government subsidy.

Mr Tsang, who said this month that the government was likely to have a deficit of more than HK$7.5 billion for the next financial year, is expected to announce that it will face a deficit in the next three financial years, due to increased spending on infrastructure projects.

Senior officials are considering the possibility of issuing bonds to fund long-term investments and increase cash flow for the administration, following growing calls from economists.

The administration is also considering whether to raise tobacco duty to cut cigarette consumption, especially among young people.

Its figures show a 13.8 per cent rise in cigarette consumption since 2006 despite a smoking ban in restaurants. Tobacco duties in Hong Kong have remained unchanged since April 1, 2001.

Another source said Mr Tsang would not provide a further electricity charge subsidy, as many households were unlikely to use up the existing handout in the next financial year. In his previous budget he announced a HK$1,800 electricity subsidy for each household, with the administration crediting HK$300 to each domestic account for six months from September.

In July, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen granted a further HK$1,800 electricity subsidy to each household.

Time To Raise Tobacco Taxes – And Save Lives

SCMP – Feb 18, 2009

Stocks in companies offering products such as tobacco and alcohol are much loved by investors because they are believed to be recession-proof. Taxmen feel the same way. Tobacco tax is for all seasons; it is one of the few categories of public revenue that can reasonably be raised regardless of the economic cycle. In this downturn, the government is under pressure to bring relief to businesses in its budget next week as industries of all types clamour for tax breaks. The tobacco industry, still with deep pockets, might be the exception.

To deter people from smoking, the government should increase tobacco duty. The Committee on Youth Smoking Prevention yesterday recommended doubling the tax. This is certainly feasible. There is a strong case for a significant increase. Duty on cigarettes has not been raised since 2002. As a result, our city has some of the cheapest cigarettes in the developed world.

Because of the potentially deadly nature of the products it sells, the tobacco industry can expect little opposition from the public to a rise in the tax. Unlike many consumer industries, it finds it much easier to pass on costs to smokers because of their addiction. But high prices would discourage young people from taking up the habit. Smoking can cause addiction and all kinds of chronic diseases. It is imperative youngsters be deterred from taking up the habit.

The ban on smoking in public, introduced at the start of 2007, has proved a success. Businesses, such as restaurants, which initially opposed it have come around. Many find that, though they have lost customers who smoke, non-smokers who previously avoided the establishments have taken their place. Many bars were exempted from complying with the ban until this summer. They are now lobbying for the exemption to continue because of the economic downturn. But they were against the ban even when times were good. The government must make the ban universal, as planned. We cannot completely stop smoking, but raising taxes and extending the smoking ban to all enclosed public spaces will deter enough people from
smoking to save many more lives.

Should The Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

Feb 02, 2009

A survey has shown that the lung functioning of non-smoking workers in smoke-free restaurants was much better than that of non-smoking workers in exempted bars (“Stick by full smoke ban, urge academics“, December 10). Smokers continue to light up even though they know the dangers of smoking.

Owners of nightclubs, bars and mahjong parlours argue that a full ban will be catastrophic for their businesses, especially given the economic crisis.

However, it is unreasonable that they should be able to make a profit at the expense of the health of their members of staff. I believe there should be a prompt implementation of a full smoking ban in order to improve people’s health.

Also, once the ban has been agreed by the government, it must be enforced.


Smoking Rise Draws Call To Put Up Duties

Cigarette use up 13.8pc despite restaurant ban

Mary Ann Benitez – Updated on Jan 31, 2009 – SCMP

Anti-tobacco groups are calling on the financial secretary to raise tobacco duties after government figures show a 13.8 per cent rise in cigarette consumption since 2006 despite a smoking ban in restaurants. Low tobacco duties – which have not changed since April 1, 2001 – have made Hong Kong cigarettes among the cheapest available in developed economies.

Customs and Excise Department figures show that 38.2 million more cigarettes per month were consumed last year than in 2006.

The ban on smoking in indoor public places was introduced in July 2007, but some bars and karaoke clubs were given a two-year exemption. That exemption will end in July, but already there has been a movement to postpone the move.

The pressure to raise the tobacco tax is greater this year due to the financial downturn, and anti- tobacco groups say it is high time the government increased tobacco duties to cut consumption, especially among young people.

The Council on Smoking and Health (Cosh) has been using the internet to rally support for a policy that would increase duties by 5 percentage points above inflation.

Cosh said it would submit the virtual signatures from its campaign and its proposal for a so-called health tax policy to Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah before he delivers the 2009-10 budget on February 25.

Customs figures show that smokers lit up 3.79 billion cigarettes last year, compared with 3.33 billion in 2006, the year before the partial ban went into force. In 2007, 3.49 billion cigarettes were consumed.

“The remaining smokers are consuming more. The price is as cheap as in 2001 and they can still go out to pubs and karaokes and nightclubs and smoke to their hearts’ demise,” said Clear the Air’s smoking committee chairman James Middleton.

“The figures in Hong Kong set an example to the world of how not to enact a smoking ban.”

The duty was last raised in the 2001-02 financial year – from 76 cents to 80 cents per cigarette.

Anthony Hedley, professor of the University of Hong Kong’s department of community medicine, said he was “very pessimistic” that Mr Tsang would choose public health over business.

Philip Morris Asia cautioned against excessive increases in the tobacco duty, saying it would support “regular and moderate tax increases” but there should be no change in times of deflation.

A spokeswoman said excessive tax would encourage smuggling, as was seen in the 1990s.

Customs figures show a decline in smuggling attempts in recent years.

The anti-tobacco lobby said census projections for restaurant receipts last year – the first full year the partial smoking ban had been in place – were HK$78.21 trillion, more than 27 per cent up on 2006 receipts. The figures were evidence, the campaigners said, that the smoking ban had not hurt the restaurant trade, as the industry had feared.

Professor Hedley said top officials “need to take tobacco out of Hong Kong business, stop pretending this is like any other business”.

Chinese University department of community and family medicine professor Wong Tze-wai said the government should view tobacco in the same category as petrol.

“We put tax on items that create some harm for other people, such as petrol,” Professor Wong said. “Why do we want to tax petrol? [It is] because we want to discourage its consumption and excessive pollution.”

A spokesman for Mr Tsang said: “Public consultation [on the budget] is in progress now. We welcome all views and we have an open mind.”

Cigarette Consumption Rises in Hong Kong

Cigarette consumption rises in Hong Kong after smoking ban

31 Jan 2009, 0938 – Times of India

HONG KONG: Cigarette consumption in Hong Kong is up almost 14 percent since a smoking ban was introduced in the city two years ago, a news report said on Saturday.

Government figures quoted by the South China Morning Post show that 3.79 billion cigarettes were bought in 2008, compared to 3.33 billion the previous year.

Anti-smoking campaigners quoted by the newspaper said they wanted taxes on cigarettes in the city of 6.9 million raised significantly in the government’s annual budget in order to reverse the trend.

A pack of cigarettes in Hong Kong costs an average of 30 Hong Kong dollars ($3.86), about half the price of a pack in Singapore and Australia.

Smoking was banned in restaurants and bars in Hong Kong in 2006, but karaoke bars, nightclubs and thousands of bars that don’t serve food were granted exemptions until July 2009.

Should The Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

Updated on Jan 30, 2009 – SCMP

Non-smoker Callan Anderson (Talkback, January 23) states that current laws are forcing smokers onto the footpaths. He argues (as would tobacco company spokesmen) for certain establishments to apply for exemptions “so that those who want to smoke can, and those who do not smoke do not have to go in”.

He avoids the point that anti-smoking laws are enacted to protect the workers in all workplace premises and they are legally entitled to a safe working environment.

Because the government granted qualified establishment exemptions under political pressure, Hong Kong smokers now consume 38.2 million more duty-paid cigarettes per month than in pre-ban 2006 while the number of people smoking has actually gone down.

Studies from Duke University [in the US] show that pictures of people smoking stimulate the cravings of people to smoke even when they are trying to quit.

More than 1,300 people die from passive smoking in Hong Kong per year.

Mr Anderson mentions the financial impact of the smoking ban and suggests “full implementation be delayed or amended to help the catering and entertainment industry”.

Again, these are words spouted worldwide by tobacco companies trying to maintain their business by forecasting doom and gloom.

In fact Hong Kong restaurant trade takings were up 30.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2008 compared with the third quarter of pre-ban 2006.

It is strange to read a stated non-smoker quoting Big Tobacco mantras.

He states, relating to the history of opium and tobacco in Hong Kong, that “governments were all too happy to propagate [them] for tax-raising reasons until very recently”.

The treatment of smoking-related illnesses and loss of productivity costs Hong Kong HK$5.3 billion per year versus only HK$3.06 billion collected in tobacco taxation. When loss of life is included, the annual cost of smoking to Hong Kong is HK$73.32 billion.

In the Legislative Council 18 months ago a motion was raised to ban smoking on the street within a set distance of building entrances and this was put on the shelf. It is time it was raised again along with tobacco taxation.

James Middleton, chairman, anti-tobacco committee, Clear the Air