Dec 31 2008 – SCMP
All of us know that smoking is harmful and there is nothing more important than our health. Therefore, why would the government wish to delay implementation of the full smoking ban?
Smokers may complain that if the full ban is introduced, they will have nowhere to smoke and that cigarettes help them relax. However, they should not have to rely on tobacco to help relieve their stress. Smokers should look on the full smoking ban as an opportunity. It offers them a chance to kick a bad habit.
It is not only good for the smokers. Non-smokers will also benefit as they no longer have to breathe in second-hand smoke. As the number of smokers decreases, so Hong Kong’s air quality will improve.
We will have a better chance of seeing our beautiful blue skies again and this can give a boost to our tourist industry. This is very important given that we need tourism to help our economy to recover. For these reasons, the full smoking ban should be implemented as soon as possible.
Tong Pui-ying, Yau Tong
Dec 31, 2008 – SCMP
I am 84 and Annelise Connell is my daughter. Her advocacy of Clear The Air’s views on smoking in bars was reviled by K. Stanton (Talkback, December 29), whose own mother is 80 and still smokes. When I was young, I promised my father that I would not smoke until I was 21.
He died of Parkinson’s disease when I was 12 and the day I turned 21, I began smoking a pack of cigarettes every couple of days. I would like to explain to your correspondent that nicotine is an addictive drug and people do not “choose” to smoke once addicted.
I know, because I smoked for more than 20 years. I have a photo of me, when we lived in Hong Kong in the late 1960s, smiling while I held a lighted cigarette near my youngest daughter’s face while she opened a present on Christmas morning.
At the time, being addicted, yet ignorant of the fact, I thought nothing of it. It was only when my older children became teenagers that I realised the poor example I was setting them and quit. But the craving did not go away for a long time.
It was years later before I learned that nicotine was addictive.
If K. Stanton’s 80-year-old mother has no health problems from her smoking, such as a chronic cough or trouble breathing, then I ask them both to remember those who are now dead because they did not understand that nicotine is an addictive drug, not a “choice”. I wish when I was 12 my father had known that nicotine was addictive and had advised me never to smoke.
Mae Pedersen, Carmichael, California
Dec 31, 2008 – SCMP
K. Stanton and Markus Shaw (Talkback, December 29) fail to raise any new justification for the government to abandon essential public health measures in its tobacco control policy, let alone to create a workplace that damages employees’ health.
While it is a relief that Mr Stanton’s chest is “clear”, we don’t base public health legislation on samples of one and his good fortune does not change the probability of throat and lung cancers, heart attacks and stroke in catering workers. Given the health evidence and workers’ need for jobs, they should not be denied clean air in their workplace, whether they are smokers or non-smokers.
The present “non-smoking” and “smoking” venues form an unsustainable recipe for both health risks and unfair competition which the majority in the hospitality industry does not want.
Mr Shaw’s best rationalisation of this situation is to claim that there are large numbers of people “who don’t care”.
There is absolutely no community-wide evidence for that and a truly representative vote “to let the people decide” would refute the arguments about a “nanny state”.
I am not an “autocrat”, simply a public health physician, paid from the public purse to teach, research, advocate and take action on the prevention of cancers and cardio-respiratory disease.
On the other hand, Mr Shaw’s stunning declaration in favour of cigarette smoke pollution in buildings is a surprising stance from a self-styled environmentalist.
I would not want to make a crass distinction between the protection of outdoor and indoor environments in Hong Kong.
Anthony Hedley, school of public health, University of Hong Kong
‘‘Efforts to Reprioritise the Agenda’’ in China: British American Tobacco’s Efforts to Influence Public Policy on Secondhand Smoke in China
A B S T R A C T
Each year, 540 million Chinese are exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS), resulting in more than 100,000 deaths. Smoke-free policies have been demonstrated to decrease overall cigarette consumption, encourage smokers to quit, and protect the health of nonsmokers. However, restrictions on smoking in China remain limited and ineffective. Internal tobacco industry documents show that transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) have pursued a multifaceted strategy for undermining the adoption of restrictions on smoking in many countries.
Methods and Findings
To understand company activities in China related to SHS, we analyzed British American Tobacco’s (BAT’s) internal corporate documents produced in response to litigation against the major cigarette manufacturers to understand company activities in China related to SHS. BAT has carried out an extensive strategy to undermine the health policy agenda on SHS in China by attempting to divert public attention from SHS issues towards liver disease prevention, pushing the so-called ‘‘resocialisation of smoking’’ accommodation principles, and providing ‘‘training’’ for industry, public officials, and the media based on BAT’s corporate agenda that SHS is an insignificant contributor to the larger issue of air pollution.
The public health community in China should be aware of the tactics previously used by TTCs, including efforts by the tobacco industry to co-opt prominent Chinese benevolent organizations, when seeking to enact stronger restrictions on smoking in public places.
For complete document please visit:
Peter So – Dec 30, 2008 – SCMP
The Tobacco Control Office has no plan to expand its team of inspectors, even though their workload is expected to increase in July when a fixed-penalty fine is launched to punish people who break smoking laws.
Office head Ronald Lam Man-kin even admitted that not all posts had been filled – there are 60-odd officers in a team meant to have 80.
“Whether we can expand the team will depend on how much budget we will be granted in the upcoming financial year,” Dr Lam said.
The budget for the office was increased by HK$2 million to HK$25 million this financial year.
The workload of officers is likely to increase next year when tighter anti-smoking measures come into effect, such as the fixed-penalty fine. Also, exemptions to an indoor smoking ban will expire for more than 1,000 bars, clubs, bathhouses and mahjong parlours, and nearly 100 public transport interchanges will become no-smoking areas. Inspectors will be authorised to issue fixed penalties while carrying out their current duties, such as handling complaints and promoting the no-smoking law.
Dr Lam acknowledged the inspectors would be allowed to enforce the law in more places, but he insisted the “work model” of inspectors remained unchanged – meaning they would mainly enforce the law after receiving complaints. He rejected fears that the workload would be too heavy. He said officers of the Leisure and Cultural Services, Housing, and Food and Environmental Hygiene departments would also issue tickets.
However, legislator Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said the team should be expanded to about 120 and their pay increased. Inspectors are paid HK$10,000 to HK$21,000 a month.
Dec 30, 2008 – SCMP
The current law must be extended to work vehicles. Buses and taxis are already smoke-free, as are government vehicles. Work vehicles are mobile workplaces, and the enclosed cabins create an intense toxic atmosphere with tobacco smoke.
Smoking in private cars with children under 18 present should be outlawed immediately. Some countries already have such a law. There is no right to smoke in the Basic Law.
In many locations it is an offence to smoke within 10 metres of a building; bar and restaurant entrances and exits in Hong Kong should be made to follow suit.
Smoking should be banned in all outdoor areas, or patios of bars and restaurants, or other food premises.
The government should follow recommendations made in other countries and demand tobacco products be sold only by licensed retailers under the counter and not displayed, and that the packaging should be plain and bland-coloured to prevent flashy styling attracting young smokers.
In the next budget, the tobacco tax must be at least doubled from its current HK$16 a pack. This is the best way to prevent youths from taking up smoking and to stop current smokers continuing their addiction. Imposing increased taxation is also mandatory under the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control treaty, ratified by China in October 2005.
Less than 12 per cent of Hongkongers are daily smokers, and smokers should not be permitted to inconvenience and harm the majority that does not smoke.
James Middleton, chairman, Clear the Air anti-tobacco committee
World Health Organization
The tobacco epidemic is preventable. Hundreds of millions of people do not have to die this century from tobacco-related illness – but only if the leaders of governments and civil society take urgent action now.
WHO has introduced the MPOWER package of six proven policies:
- Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies,
- Protect people from tobacco smoke,
- Offer help to quit tobacco use,
- Warn about the dangers of tobacco,
- Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and
- Raise taxes on tobacco.
The MPOWER policy package can reverse the tobacco epidemic and prevent millions of tobacco-related deaths.
For details, please visit the website of WHO: http://www.who.int/tobacco/mpower/en/
You may also contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
SCMP – Dec 29, 2008
Everyone knows smoking is bad for our health, but smokers talk about their rights and argue they should be free to smoke. However, the health of non-smokers should not be put at risk for smokers’ convenience.
One of the reasons for the ban is to reduce people’s exposure to second-hand smoke and so save lives as well as discouraging smoking.
In order to achieve these aims, smoking rooms should not be allowed and a full ban should be imposed. Smoking rooms will be connected to no-smoking areas and smoke will escape when the door is open. Therefore, non-smokers will still risk exposure to second-hand smoke. Smoking rooms would have to have good ventilation. At certain venues surely the government would have to foot the bill for these changes. Would this meet with the approval of non-smoking taxpayers? In a city like Hong Kong, I just do not think that smoking rooms are feasible.
Smokers should make the necessary changes and adapt to the ban. They should attempt to quit this deadly habit.
Lam Kwan-ling, Kowloon Bay