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December 1st, 2008:

Should The Ban On Smoking In Bars Be Delayed?

Dec 01 2008 – SCMP

Some bar owners have asked that the ban on smoking in their premises should not be implemented on July 1, but should be delayed. They think the time is not right given the problems Hong Kong is going through.

However, I disagree. I do not think the ban should be postponed.

Bar owners fear they could lose customers who smoke, but what about the non-smoking patrons? They want to be able to enjoy drinking in a bar that has a better, smoke-free environment.

Hopefully it will also make smokers think about their habit. If they are in bars and cannot smoke, it may encourage them to think about giving up cigarettes.

I have read some newspaper reports where people have actually said that after the restrictions were introduced, it would hopefully make them more determined to give up cigarettes.

I think a total ban in bars will be another step forward for the anti-smoking movement.

We also have to look at the issue of human rights. Non-smokers should not have to breathe in second-hand smoke. A smoker has to realise that he is affecting those people who are around him.

Only a total ban can protect non-smokers in bars.

The government should not delay the total ban. We must try to move closer to the goal of a smoke-free city.

Bonnie Lam Hiu-wai, Tseung Kwan O

Should The Ban On Smoking In Bars Be Delayed?

Dec 01 2008 – SCMP

I object strenuously to proposals to grant further or longer exemptions for smoking in bars and restaurants.

I also hope the vast majority of Hong Kong residents who do not smoke will make their views known loudly to the government.

Since the partial smoking limitations were enacted, we have seen proprietors in many eating and drinking places trying to cope with the current patchwork arrangement by adopting half-measures.

I find it increasingly difficult to avoid smoke when I dine out in Hong Kong, whether it is drifting in from the adjoining smoking area on the terrace, or from the “separately licensed” bar that is in fact a part of the restaurant (and whose air is certainly interconnected). This is to say nothing of the appallingly filthy air in exempted bars with poor ventilation.

Further extensions of the exemption will only encourage continuing degradation of the situation.

Bar owners are not to be blamed. They need an unambiguous and level playing field.

The government needs to recognise the huge costs that its ambivalence and vacillation is imposing on Hong Kong citizens, workers and taxpayers (paying for medical care for people whose health is severely damaged by second-hand smoke), and on the international reputation of our city.

When even the developing countries of Southeast Asia are implementing smoking bans, it makes international visitors gasp (literally) when they see the situation in what quickly becomes “Asia’s world joke”.

John Medeiros, North Point


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