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June 4th, 2009:

Government Communicates With Listed Establishments On Full Indoor Smoking Ban

HK Gov press release – June 4, 2009

A spokesman of the Department of Health (DH) said today (June 4) that a smoking ban at six types of listed establishments – bars, clubs, night-clubs, bathhouses, massage establishments and mahjong-tin kau premises – would take effect on July 1 in accordance with the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance.

The same as those of other indoor public places, staff and customers of these listed establishments would be protected from hazards of passive smoking, the spokesman said.

As in the past, the authorities would adopt a multi-pronged approach which comprised publicity, education, persuasion, and enforcement to implement the smoking ban and appeal for the co-operation of the management of relevant establishments.

“Since early this year, the Tobacco Control Office (TCO) has, via various channels, including sending letters to the management of these six types of listed establishments and meetings with the trades’ representatives, explained to the trades the relevant measures and reminded them of the upcoming expiry of the more-than-two-year exemption from the smoking ban.

“Starting last month (May), TCO organised a number of workshops to assist the trades to understand the full implementation of the indoor smoking ban as well as the specific measures. So far, a total of 132 people have enrolled in nine of these workshops,” the spokesman said.

Management of the listed establishments where the smoking ban would be implemented were invited to participate in seminars on the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance to acquire a better understanding of the relevant statutory requirements. If necessary, staff of these establishments could also join the smoking cessation seminars organised by the TCO to quit early, he said.

“Starting this month (June), TCO will distribute guidelines, posters, leaflets, logos and other publicity items on the relevant measures of smoking ban to the management of the six types of listed establishments.

The spokesman said the policy objective of implementing a full indoor smoking ban in listed establishments was to protect the health of staff and customers.

“An opinion poll conducted by the Government also showed that the majority of the public supported the anti-smoking policy. More than 88% of our population are non-smokers. We thus appeal for the co-operation and understanding of the trades in implementing this policy,” he said.

“The Government is ready to continue to maintain dialogue with the trades, and to assist both the staff and customers to adapt to the new measures,” he said.

Fewer New Yorkers Are Smoking – Higher Taxes Could Be Among Key Reasons

By RICK KARLIN, Capitol bureau, – Thursday, June 4, 2009

ALBANY — Fewer and fewer people are smoking in New York, and health officials peg part much of the decrease to higher taxes.

The Department of Health on Thursday announced that just under 17 percent of New Yorkers were smokers in 2008, which represented a 12 percent or nearly 310,000-person drop from the year before.

They note that the decrease in smoking came as taxes on cigarettes are hitting record levels. Last June, the state raised taxes from $1.25 to $2.75 per pack, making it the nation’s highest state tax at the time.

Additionally, federal taxes rose 61 cents to $1 a pack in April.

“For the first time, New York’s adult smoking rate has dropped below 17 percent, which is well below the national average,” said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. “The data reported today show that New York’s tobacco control efforts are having an impact and that keeping the price of cigarettes high is a proven intervention that has helped 310,000 New Yorkers become ex-smokers, who can now lead healthier, longer lives.”

“This is what we predicted,” added Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco-Free New York.

Health Department spokeswoman Diane Mathis said the state’s data comes from an annual survey of “risk factors,” that states do in coordination with federal officials.

New Yorkers now pay $3.75 (HK$ 29.25) in state and federal taxes for a pack of cigarettes. In New York City, where there is an additional $1.50 tax, they pay $5.25 (HK$41).

Rick Karlin can be reached at 454-5758 or