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December 31st, 2008:

The Law Society of NSW Letter on Tobacco Control in Australia

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Should The Full Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

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

Should The Full Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

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

Should The Full Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

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