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March 16th, 2009:

More Smokers Ask For Help In Quitting

Tiffany Lam, SCMP – Updated on Mar 16, 2009

The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health has seen an increase in the number of people seeking help in quitting the habit since the financial secretary recently increased the tax on tobacco by 50 per cent. Council chairwoman Lisa Lau welcomed the increase and said the tax should go up every year to encourage more smokers to quit.

Should The Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

SCMP – Updated on Mar 16, 2009

I wish to convey my thanks to the anti-smoking lobby in Hong Kong. It has saved me a lot of money.

Prior to the ban on smoking in restaurants, I used to have lunch and dinner about 30 times per month, spending a fortune. Since the ban has come into force, I now go to restaurants about twice per month. The supermarkets in Hong Kong have gained because of this, the hospitality trade has lost out.

It is also the Macau government that gains, because I travel to Macau to have a meal about 10 times a month, having a nice meal, cheaper than in Hong Kong, and being able to smoke. Who is the winner here? Many of my friends do the same thing.

I also believe that many criminal elements in Hong Kong also wish to thank the anti-smoking lobby; with the recent increase in tax on tobacco, they will earn a lot. Therefore, the anti-smoking lobby can be commended for providing many lucrative jobs in Hong Kong during the economic downturn, albeit illegal jobs.

I wonder if the anti-smoking lobbyists are living in the real world, especially in light of the fact that in three months’ time smoking in all bars will not be allowed.

In Britain, more than 3,000 bars have closed since the smoking ban came into effect, putting thousands of people out of work – the closures purely and simply being due to the smoking ban.

Why, in a democratic society, is it not possible for market forces to rule? The anti-smoking lobby may say that workers’ health is paramount. Fine. The majority of workers in bars and restaurants smoke, so a bar or restaurant that allows smoking should only employ smokers. What is wrong with that?

In other countries, the majority of bars and restaurants are on the ground floor. In Hong Kong, they can be on the 50th floor of a building, or in a shopping mall that requires smokers to walk for 15 minutes before they can go outside for a cigarette. I opine that all bars and restaurants in Hong Kong must be on the ground floor, providing easy access for smokers.

My previous letter about alcohol being a bigger drain on our fiscal resources still applies (Talkback, January 1). How do you compensate a family that has lost a loved one through drink-driving? Ban alcohol, I will stop smoking.

Andy Boulton, Shouson Hill