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December 13th, 2008:

Should The Full Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

SCMP – Updated on Dec 13, 2008

To justify some of the smoking exposure study’s findings (“Stick by full smoke ban, urge academics”, December 10), the methodology needed to include examination of detailed medical records of all participants from childhood, against a control population.

This has not been done, nor has the study accounted for any other significant variables as other possible causes of loss of lung function.

To counter stock arguments, there has been significant attrition in pubs, and a demonstrable decline in their revenue in Britain since implementation of its smoking ban.

The possibility that their health may not be affected must be a real comfort to the thousands of people who no longer have employment as a result.

A Scottish study showed that most pub employees experienced no health improvement one year after the ban.

There is no evidence that California’s decade-old indoor ban reduced alleged smoking-related health problems, as would have been expected.

The anti-smoking lobby also wanted to ban smoking in the home and already has set its sights on obesity.

Will the line be drawn at obesity? What is next?

I am a smoker, accept that it is not pleasant and have always accepted that diners in restaurants should not have to endure my smoke.

There needs to be, however, a balance between competing interests as in any reasonable, civilised society.

The anti-smoking lobby appears to have very personal prejudices about smoking, and health concerns are a convenient vehicle for those prejudices, but that does not justify prohibiting balance.

There are now thousands of facilities for non-smokers to dine in, drink in and attend (indoors and outdoors), but only very few locales that allow smokers to light up.

Non-smokers have massive choice available to them, yet anti-smokers wish to deny any choice to smokers.

Anyone involved in risk management knows that one should eliminate the largest problem first, as this will bring the most benefits.

In Hong Kong’s case, this is clearly ambient air pollution, which needs the most urgent attention in relation to its effect on health, besides which smoking pales into insignificance. Additionally, some risks may be considered to be acceptable by some people provided that they are advised of any possible risks inherent in employment.

Lam Kwok-tung, Central