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‘I might just stay home and smoke’

Fox Yi Hu – SCMP

Smokers lit up as usual to enjoy the final Saturday night of puffing in bars – before a full ban takes effect on Wednesday – with some feeling frustrated but others thinking it may help them quit the habit.

Non-smokers working in bars said they looked forward to the clean air that was long overdue.

Jacob Bluhme, a smoker and shipping company sales director, said he had already encountered smoking bans in Los Angeles, Chicago and Singapore.

“I hate the smoking ban,” he said, drawing on a cigarette in a Lan Kwai Fong pub. “Hong Kong is like my last safe haven.”
He said he might go out less at night as a result of the ban. “I might just stay home and have a cigarette on my balcony,” he said.

At the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, June 30, smoking will no longer be permitted in bars, nightclubs, clubs, massage venues, mahjong parlours and bathhouses.

But Christen Ho, 29, said she was comfortable with the ban, which she said would help her quit smoking. “I intend to quit anyway, so this can help a little bit,” Ms Ho said in a pub.

The full ban may worry some pub managers, but Warren McInnes, manager of The Keg on D’Aguilar Street in Central and a non-smoker, said he felt great about the whole thing.

“I will be extremely happy with the smoking ban when it comes into effect,” he said, adding that he believed the full ban would not have a big impact on his business.

The Keg would still sell cigarettes under the full smoking ban, as it was easy for smokers to walk a few steps and light up outdoors, he said.

“In a small bar like this, people can step outside and smoke.”

Bartender Sheela Guoung said she had long been hoping for clean air in her workplace.
“I’ve had coughing problem for six months. I need fresh air,” she said.

The punishment for lighting up in a smoke-free establishment will be a fine of up to HK$5,000.


CTA, James Middleton

Dear Tobacco Control

last week I had a discussion with a friend who used to manage a bar in Shatin / Tai Wai. He is still  a shareholder of the Railway Tavern in Shatin.

He told me his directors had said they thought TCO would take a lenient view on continued smoking and that they expected it to take 6 months before anything happened if they continued smoking and that in any case, they had no legal onus to stop people smoking in the pub.

The article below is clear what needs to be done and that is to follow overseas legislation on making the licensee responsible to prevent smoking in his premises or face the loss of the liquor / sauna / mahjong / night club licence. Licensees are already bound not to serve drunken people by law and the same should happen with smoking. In the meantime TCO should write to all licensees to inform them that their liquor / other licence renewals might be affected by allowing smoking to take place on their premises.

The comments of the mahjong parlours to continue to provide cigarettes is another reason why premises managers should be made responsible under the law with the threat of loss of licence for non compliance.  It works everywhere else in the world so why not here ?

It seems obvious that smokers will step outside the bars and pubs and the Government must look at similar legislation overseas that bans smoking within 10 meters of a building entrance and on restaurant and bar patios.

We concur with your statement on smoking in cars with children present and look forward to the Government following overseas jurisdictions on plain packaging of cigarettes, point of sale displays and the regulation and control of tobacco ingredients as enacted by the US FDA and signed into law.

Kind regards,

James Middleton

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