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Bar staff have ashtrays for smokers

SCMP May 17, 2012

Bar staff have ashtrays for smokers

I could not agree more with Gibson Wong Lok-tak (“Many bars now ignore smoking ban”, May 9).

The stagnant air sickens people, particularly in upstairs bars, and nobody seems to care about this situation.

Even non-smokers going to these bars are afraid to raise the issue with the landlord or waitresses, as they see ashtrays placed almost everywhere. I even once saw a customer asking a member of staff to provide him with an ashtray; she willingly complied.

The attitude in those bars appears to be that people go there to light up even though it is against the law and that non-smokers who are unwilling to be harmed by second-hand smoke should meet somewhere else.

We all have rights. When people light up in these bars, they violate the right of non-smokers to breathe fresh air.

Customers who realise what is happening is wrong may wish to try to rectify the situation. However, they are often scared of getting a violent response or they know that their request for people to adhere to the law will be ignored.

It seems that only bars in places like shopping malls or well-known tourist spots such as LanKwai Fong will abide by the law. This is probably because of tighter security measures in these areas.

Maybe it is now time for the government or the Tobacco Control Office to step up patrols and launch a crackdown, particularly at night.

Leigh-Anne Wong, Sha Tin

Ottawa’s Smoking Ban makes impact on Gatineau’s bar scene

The City of Gatineau is once again forced to react after the Ottawa city council approved a motion, 21-2, to ban smoking in bar and restaurant patios. Beaches, playgrounds and parks among other locations will also become smoke-free after Canada Day.

“It is only a matter of time before a similar law is ushered into Gatineau’s City Hall,” said Éric Gaudreault, owner of Le Troquet – Bar and Bistro, which has two patios.

This seems like a déjà-vu for bars and restaurants owners in Gatineau, specifically for bars in le Vieux-Hull. On August 1, 2001 the City of Ottawa’s Smoke-Free Public Places and Workplaces Bylaws prohibited smoking inside bars and restaurants and in all workplaces and enclosed spaces open to the public. Yet, smoke still filled the air in bars and restaurants across the river, until May 2006. “It’s been there done that,” admitted Éric Gaudreault, referring to the 2001 anti-tobacco laws in Ottawa.

“There will definitely be an impact, more people will come to Hull,” admitted Gaudreault, “but it will not create line-ups or anything like that,” when asked if more people will end up in old Hull to light up. Frank Oliva, who worked as a bartender in Ottawa for over 5 years, agrees with Gaudreault. “People from Ottawa will definitely cross the river, especially on sunny days,” said Oliva, who worked at the DiESEL nightclub and the Earl of Sussex, which boasts one of the biggest patios in the ByWard Market.

While the number of smokers may rise in bars and restaurants in Hull during the summer days, Gaudreault isn’t getting too anxious. “I won’t be taking measures to prepare ourselves for having more clients,” said the owner of the Le Troquet. However, he does worry about a related problem. “A younger crowd does make its way here and hopefully they won’t be too much trouble on the patios,” added Gaudreault.

As for Oliva, he worries there will be too much smoke in the air, literally. “I think a majority of the people going to Hull will be smokers and it might make the patios too saturated with smoke,” said Oliva. “A few smokers on the patios aren’t a problem, but when there are a lot of smokers it gets unpleasant,” added Oliva.

In 2003, following Ottawa’s example, Gatineau had asked the Government of Québec to ban smoking in public places. With Gatineau city councillor Pierre Philion fighting to stop smoking on patios in Gatineau, it will not be surprising if they make a similar request. “Ottawa is usually the first to take decisions like this and if the law works why wouldn’t Gatineau follow suit?” said Oliva. The City of Gatineau will not be able to enforce similar laws until the province grants them permission since the public health is in the hands of the provincial government.

If a similar law passes in Québec, smokers might just transform their apartment and patios into smoking lounges and invite their friends over. “Due to the social aspect, I think people will always go out to bars,” said Oliva. “However, big smokers, those who don’t just smoke socially, might be tempted to stay home.” If you plan on turning your living space in a smoking lounge don’t be shocked to see your face become Jackie Child’s case.

Internet site reference:

Therapy to quit smoking ‘no help’

south China Morning Post – Jan 11, 2012

Clear the Air says : because the smokers can still go out and smoke in bars with only a miniscule chance of being caught, they will continue to do so until the Government follows the legislation in many overseas territories and places the onus to prevent smoking on the premises’ licensees including patio areas and within 10 meters of doorways. Without places to go and smoke socially, many more nicotine addicts will quit.

US study shows nicotine gum and patches are not much use in kicking the habit, but Hong Kong still sees value in such programmes

Nicotine gum and patches may be no help in kicking a smoking habit and may even backfire in the case of heavy smokers, according to a long-term study conducted in the United States.

Such therapy is recommended in programmes trying to get people to quit smoking in Hong Kong.

US researchers say they have found no difference in long-term quit rates with or without the use of gum and patches.

“We were hoping for a very different story,” said Professor Gregory Connolly, director of Harvard University’s Centre for Global Tobacco Control in Boston and co-author of the study. “I ran a treatment for years, and we invested millions in treatment services.”

In Hong Kong, the Department of Health works with medical institutions such as the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals to run clinics to provide free nicotine replacement therapy for people seeking to quit smoking.

The University of Hong Kong, for instance, recommends using gum or patches if smokers find withdrawal symptoms too much to handle.

However, the cost of such therapy seems to be a deterrent – the university found only about a third of the 10,000 or so respondents in a survey actually used them, said Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee, head of the nursing department.

“It’s funny. It’s about the same amount as smoking for a week, about HK$200, but people don’t want to spend money on [gum or patches],” Chan said.

She said that for now, HKU would continue to recommend using gum and patches to quit smoking.

“The nicotine replacement therapies are more to help them through the process of quitting. It’s like what methadone clinics do for heroin addicts, giving them lower doses to ease them off withdrawal symptoms, not necessarily to prevent relapse.”

In general, at least half of those who tried to quit smoking relapsed, and so psychological readiness was more instrumental to preventing a relapse, she said.

In the Massachusetts study, the researchers followed the progress of 1,916 adults during the past decade, including 787 who said at the start of the study that they had recently quit smoking.

The researchers interviewed them three times, about once every two years, on their use of gum, patches and other such products, their periods of not smoking and their relapses.

At each stage, about one-third of the people trying to quit had relapsed, the study found. The use of replacement products made no difference, whether they were taken for a recommended two-month period (usually they were not), or with the guidance of a professional cessation counsellor.

Heavy smokers – defined as those who had their first cigarette within half an hour of waking up – who used replacement products without counselling were twice as likely to relapse as heavy smokers who did not use them. The findings were published in the journal Tobacco Control this week.

In Hong Kong, smokers who sign up for services to quit smoking undergo individual or group counselling and are prescribed nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or non-NRT medication. The Tung Wah Group of Hospitals programme admitted 717, 1,288 and 2,756 people in 2009, 2010 and last year respectively. The health department subsidised the hospital group with HK$21 million for 2011-12 for the smoking cessation programme, a department spokesman said.

A combination of higher taxes, social factors and effective antitobacco campaigning in the city is thought to have helped cut the number of people aged 15 and above who smoke to 11.1 per cent, down from 12 per cent in 2009. The rate is one of the lowest in the developed world.

BA City bars and restaurants now 100% smoke-free

The City of Buenos Aires put forth the steps to become 100% smoke-free, after amendments were made yesterday to the anti-tobacco laws, totally prohibiting the use of smoking areas in restaurants and bars in the capital.

The City Government put forward the measure in a bid to ensure all closed public areas in the Capital be completely smoke-free.

The amendments were finalised late last night, to the law that was voted in December 2010, bringing vast changes to Buenos Aires cafe culture, as those who smoke will now have to go outside.

Plainly, sites that constructed special smoking areas within bars and restaurants as early as 2005, when article 21 of law 1799 insisted tobacco controls be put in place – will now be left slightly astray due to the new measures taken by the Macri administration.

According to official sources, most downtown bars and restaurants already closed these areas –that put other customers and moreover, café/bar staff at risk of secondhand smoking- after the anti-tobacco laws were passed last year. However for those that hadn’t, now will be their time to do so in the latest move by the City government to crackdown on smoking.

Reply to LLB

The Associated Press: Dutch government backtracks on anti-smoking

Dutch government backtracks on anti-smoking

By MARIA CHENG, Associated Press–17 minutes ago

AMSTERDAM (AP) — It’s getting surprisingly easy to light up in the Netherlands these days — cigarettes, that is.

Even as the Dutch government hardens its famous tolerance policy on marijuana, it is taking an increasingly relaxed stance toward tobacco, bucking the trend in nearly every other developed country.

Last year it exempted some bars from a smoking ban and now it has unveiled plans to reduce spending on anti-smoking advertising campaigns and end funding for health care programs to help people kick the habit. The Netherlands is also planning to cease funding its national center on tobacco control.

Nearly half of the nation’s bars and nightclubs flout the 2008 smoking ban but they’re rarely punished.

“There’s no other country that’s taking these backward steps,” said Lies Van Gennip, director of the national tobacco control center, slated to be closed in 2013. “I’m ashamed of what’s happening here.”

At a press briefing on Wednesday, several Dutch politicians and experts blasted the government for backtracking on tobacco control policies. Opposition lawmaker Renske Leijten of the Socialist Party said Health Minister EdithSchippers was making the wrong decision to cut back on quit smoking policies.

“You can even wonder if she is minister of health or minister for the tobacco industry,” she said.

Schippers said she believes in freedom of choice for smokers and that the government has “gone too far in making rules about it.”

Inge Freriksen, a health ministry spokeswoman, told the Associated Press the Netherlands had chosen “a different manner of prevention” — one that focuses on educating children on the dangers of smoking.

The Netherlands is home to Europe’s biggest tobacco industry and also has Philip Morris’ largest factory worldwide. Some experts have suggested possible improper links between the Dutch government and Dutch tobacco that account for the changes.

In a recent documentary on Dutch television, tobacco lobbyist Alexander van Voorst Vader said he knew Schipperswhen she served in Dutch Parliament and held numerous discussions with her. “She was very open (to) sensible points of view of the industry,” he said.

Any communication where the tobacco industry might influence government policies is strictly forbidden by the World Health Organization’s international tobacco control treaty, which the Netherlands signed in 2005.

Health ministry spokeswoman Freriksen said any communication government officials had with the tobacco industry was legitimate. “It’s not forbidden to have communication with tobacco companies in a normal manner about enforcement,” she said. “You do talk with them.”

The WHO tobacco control treaty obliges signatory nations to introduce strong tobacco control measures including increased legislation, taxation and education. But like most global treaties, there are no real measures to punish countries that don’t comply.

According to the Netherlands’ National Organization for Tobacco Trade, Dutch consumers bought more than 4 billioneuros ($5 billion) worth of tobacco products last year. About 27 percent of people in the Netherlands smoke, slightly higher than other rich countries including Britain and the U.S.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the Netherlands has a lung cancer rate of about 93 people per 100,000, higher than the average in Western Europe, including Austria, France and Germany.

Earlier this year, Dutch researchers predicted that without stronger anti-smoking policies, almost a million people in the Netherlands would die prematurely due to tobacco-related diseases between now and 2040.

By 2020, they estimated smoking-related diseases would kill 600 additional people as a result of the government’s decision to stop paying for quit smoking programs and ending mass education campaigns.

Schippers argued in a letter to Parliament that the projection was “partially dependent on assumptions.”

The government’s liberal stance toward tobacco contrasts strongly with its moves to curtail the country’s famous tolerance policy toward marijuana: the government is reducing the number of cafes licensed to sell the drug and plans to introduce a pass system next year that would bar tourists from buying it at all.

Critics argue the Dutch population is woefully ignorant of the dangers of tobacco. In a global survey on smokers’ awareness, only 61 percent of Dutch smokers agreed second-hand smoke was dangerous to non-smokers — much lower than smokers elsewhere, including Mauritius, China, Brazil and Mexico.

“Dutch smokers are among the least informed about the harms of smoking and second-hand smoke,” said Geoff Fong, at the University of Waterloo in Canada, who heads a program that monitors smoking policies worldwide.

“The Dutch are heading into a situation where their tobacco control could be worse than many developing countries,” he said.

Last year, the government declared that small, owner-operated bars without employees would be exempt from the smoking ban.

Ex-smoker Eddie Moojen quit smoking four months ago on his own and says he isn’t worried about second-hand smoke.

“We had dinner the other night at a cafe where they smoke, it doesn’t make that much difference,” said Moojen, 39, founder of Opentracker, a software company in the southern city of Eindhoven. “I’m not uptight about smokers bothering non-smokers.”

Cheng reported from London. Associated Press Writer Mike Corder in The Hague contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Hookah, line and stinker

South China Morning Post – Nov. 15, 2011
Shisha bars are gaining popularity in Hong Kong, but are smokers of the
aromatic tobacco playing with fire?

Shisha bars are gaining popularity in Hong Kong, but are smokers of thearomatic tobacco playing with fire?

In addition all tobacco products imported into Hong kong have to be approved and registered with the Government Chemist with details of tar content etc.

‘The rules and regulations stipulated by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

(WHO FCTC) apply to all tobacco products and not only cigarettes. Fourteen Member States of

the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region are now Parties to the Convention. Consequently when

Articles 10 and 11 call upon countries to regulate tobacco products, that regulation will include

tobacco consumed by use of the waterpipe, a traditional form of smoking common to the Region. The

regulation of tobacco products includes health warnings, information about contents and emissions,

as well as packaging and labelling. All these elements and others indicated in Articles 10 and 11 of the

WHO FCTC are pertinent to the waterpipe as they are to all methods of tobacco consumption.’

Download PDF : Shisha

Bar staff do have responsibilities

Last updated: July 28, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

I refer to the letter by M. Kang (“Stop bothering the bartenders”, July 26).

Bartenders have an important role. They not only serve customers their drinks and food, they should also make sure the customers are in a safe and clean environment.

For example, if someone has already had too much to drink, the bartender should not serve that person any more alcohol and should try and persuade them to go home.

A good bartender will not tolerate anti-social behaviour in the bar, whether they own it or are “just staff”. The same principle applies to smoking.

If people complain about other customers smoking in the bar, in clear violation of the law, staff should not ignore the problem. And if the smokers start to get abusive, then tobacco control officers and the police should be called.

Under the present law, if tobacco control officers are called, the bar owner is not responsible for customers smoking so has nothing to worry about regarding legal action. It is only the smoking customer who should be concerned.

Wouter van Marle, Tai Po

Clear the Air says: Tommy Cheung

So what does Legco member Tommy Cheung have to say ? after all he predicted doom and gloom for the catering industry after the smoking ban in workplaces came into being.

Has he printed a retraction to say he was wrong – by about HK$ 18 billion only whilst meanwhile demanding an hourly minimum wage of HK$ 20 ?

Can we trust what the Liberal Party or its non elected Functional Constituency members say or vested interests tell them what to say ?

You decide.

Total Restaurant Receipts






Index (Average of quarterly indices from Oct 2004 to Sep 2005 = 100)

Year-on-year % change

Index (Average of quarterly indices from Oct 2004 to Sep 2005 = 100)

Year-on-year % change













2006 no smoking ban






2007 Jan -partial smoking ban commences












2009 – July full smoking ban in place






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The restaurants sector’s total receipts was $20.8 billion in value in the first quarter, up 4.8% on the same period last year, the Census & Statistics Department says. Restaurants’ total purchases increased 4.2% in value, to $7.2 billion.

After discounting the effect of price changes, total restaurant receipts rose 3.9% in volume.

Analysed by type of restaurant, Chinese restaurants’ total receipts rose 6.3% in value, or 5.3% in volume. Fast food shops‘ total receipts grew 5.3% in value or 4.6% in volume, while bars’ total receipts of bars rose 5% in value or 4.9% in volume.

Non-Chinese restaurants’ total receipts rose 2.4% in value or 1.9% in volume, while the figure for miscellaneous eating and drinking places grew 2% in value or 1.1% in volume.

On a seasonally adjusted quarter-to-quarter comparison, the volume of total restaurant receipts increased 1.2%.

Letters to the Editor: Officials must crack down on smokers

police-crackdown-415x275Last updated: March 21, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

It is always a pleasure to visit Hong Kong and I felt things would be even better thanks to the smoking ban in pubs and public open spaces. However, I see the law being flouted and it is getting worse. In November there were some incidents, in January a few more, and this month I saw people smoking in so many establishments.

The government seems to be willing to let Hong Kong return to the bad old days. What a shame it will not enforce the law.

There are now several establishments I will not go to because the smoking problem is worse than ever, so at least I’m saving money.

I hope for Hong Kong’s sake the government wakes up before it is too late and the bad old days are back forever.

John Preston, Hawksburn, Victoria, Australia