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October 9th, 2012:

Stub them out

Mary Ann Benitez

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bar and restaurant managers should be prosecuted if people are caught smoking in their premises.

That’s the latest stub-’em-out warning from the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health.

“If they are liable, it would make the job of enforcing the law by the government much easier,” COSH chairwoman Lisa Lau Man-man said.

“If you have to call the Tobacco Control Office, before they could come to give people the ticket, the smoker might be gone already.”

The fixed penalty for smoking in a no-smoking area is HK$1,500.

Lau urged the change yesterday on the fringes of a reception to mark the 30th anniversary of the first anti-smoking legislation in Hong Kong in 1982.

The Tobacco Control Office, which has only 146 officers to enforce the smoking ban, issued a total of 5,286 fixed-penalty notices from January to August this year. Last year, a total of 7,637 were issued.

However, prosecuting managers is opposed by industry stalwarts.

Allan Zeman, chairman of the Lan Kwai Fong Association, said: “I don’t think it’s fair to prosecute a bar manager who’s there to do his job and make sure the bar and restaurant are functioning properly.”

A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said views of the public as well as COSH “would be taken into account when the government considers further initiatives to control smoking.”

Meanwhile, World Health Organization director-general Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun, in Hong Kong as a guest at the anti-smoking law reception, told Secret

ary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man that he has much more to do on tobacco control, even if Hong Kong has an 11.1 percent smoking rate, among the lowest in the world.

Chan said she discussed with Koand Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying the need for plain packaging and Australia’s victory in its case against a lawsuit filed by the “despicable” tobacco companies.

“The highest court in Australia ruled that the government’s action is correct,” she said. “And that is a very important win for public health.

“Norway was also taken to court by the tobacco industry. Norway again won that court case, and two wins in succession is good news for public health because it is the right thing to do to protect women, children and men’s health.”


She said the tobacco industry tries every means to target young women and children, especially to entice them to buy tobacco products.

“Every government, including Hong Kong, should take every precaution to protect their people,” Chan said.

If governments do not take effective action, there will be more than 8 million deaths every year by 2030 – up from 6 million now.

Leung told the reception smoking- related treatment and other services cost the government HK$53 billion a year.

Ko said: “As the chief executive pledged, we will continue our initiative to drive all other measures to ensure that Hong Kong will become a smoke-free society.”

Huang Jiefu, vice minister of the ministry of health, said tobacco control has become “a prominent social issue and related legislation has gradually been established.”

China has more than 300 million smokers, while 740 million are threatened by second-hand smoke.