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December 17th, 2008:

Should The Full Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

SCMP – Updated on Dec 17, 2008

Judith Mackay (Talkback, December 11) has a serious problem in her quest to eliminate cigarette smoking but there is absolutely no justification to target a small group of businesses that provide a service for those who wish to smoke.

Licensed bars and entertainment places are private premises to which customers are invited at a manager’s discretion and are not public places with right of access.

Smoky bars are, therefore, not places with “indoor air pollution” to which the public or even “catering workers” are forced to venture.

Nobody disputes that nicotine is an addictive drug and smoking kills, but like it or not, hundreds of millions of people worldwide still choose to smoke.

Governments are sensible enough not to attempt to outlaw tobacco because quite apart from not wanting to lose billions of tax dollars, the memory of the attempted alcohol ban in the US in the 1920s – Prohibition – is still too fresh.

No-smoking regulations already applied to shopping centres are weakly enforced, so what hope have you of enforcing even stricter regulations for private premises?

The chairman of the Clear the Air (Talkback, December 12) group, Christian Masset, should check his facts. I am still a life member of the group.

I submitted a resignation some years ago, which was never acknowledged and the group has continued to send me members’ notices. I have also asked him as Clear the Air chairman to have a members’ general debate on the smoking issue, which was ignored.

The anti-tobacco lobby in Hong Kong and elsewhere has not been doing too well in recent years. Its weary message of doom for smokers is as stale as the lingering smell of smoke in an empty bar.

Clear the Air has unfortunately permitted itself to be hijacked by anti-smoking campaigners, seeking to reinforce their flagging message.

Most supporters believe in a far more noble cause than penalising smokers.

We believe the priority is to clean the filthy and unhealthy outside air we are compelled to breathe without choice.

This is what air pollution is really all about.

If Dr Mackay and Clear the Air get their way, they will drive smoking dens underground.

Or worse still, we will have larger groups of people hanging around on the pavements, blowing smoke into the faces of passers-by.

Leave the bars and entertainment spots alone.

P. A. Crush, Sha Tin


Setback For Cigarette Firms

SCMP – 17 December 2008

WASHINGTON – The US Supreme Court has handed a surprising defeat to tobacco companies, ruling that smokers may use state consumer protection laws to sue cigarette makers for the way they promote “low tar” brands. The decision was at odds with recent anti-consumer rulings that limited state regulation. AP

Should The Full Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

Dec 17 2008 – SCMP

I continue to be perplexed by claims of those such as Lam Kwok-tung (Talkback, December 13) that there is a “right” to smoke in Hong Kong. Nicotine is a listed poison and deliberately applying poison to another person with the intent to harm is against the law.

Smokers know that second-hand smoke causes harm because in Hong Kong we usually blow the exhaled smoke as far away from our faces – and our friends’ faces – as possible.

It is also considered polite to hold a lit cigarette far away from friends’ faces – and direct it instead towards strangers.

Lam Kwok-tung is mistaken in believing that deliberately poisoning people is part of a civilised society.

It is a contravention of Chapter 212, which has the charming title of Offences Against the Person Ordinance.

His best choice, in order to stay within the law and reduce air pollution, is to quit.

Annelise Connell, Stanley