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HK extends smoke ban to bars, clubs, etc

HONG KONG: Smokers in Hong Kong will have to stub out their cigarettes before entering recreational venues to avoid hefty fines as an extended smoking ban comes into effect July 1.

A spokesperson of the HKSAR Health Department said late Monday that smoking will not be allowed in bars, night clubs, bathhouses, massage and mahjong premises and violators of the rule could have to pay 5,000 HK dollars in financial punishment at the most.

The spokesperson called for cooperation from the management of these venues in providing a smoke-free environment for their staff and customers, noting “they are authorized to require anyone to stop smoking in no-smoking areas and can request those refusing to produce their identity and address for follow-up action, or ask them to leave.”

Hong Kong health authorities have already implemented a smoke ban covering all indoor areas of workplaces, public places, restaurants, and karaoke lounges since 2007.

The extended ban “can further protect the public from exposure to second-hand smoke,” the spokesperson said.

According to a survey released by the government in March, more than 70 percent of those polled support the extension of the smoke ban to take effect July 1.

However, an activist group for the recreational industry argued that an overwhelming proportion of the 1,018 respondents never or seldom go to recreational venues and less than 20 percent of them are smokers, so the survey may “lack credibility.”

The group made a statement in major local newspapers published Tuesday, saying it is “totally disappointed” that the government gives no regard to appeals of the industry as the financial tsunami already hits hard on the sector, which is bound to be impacted further by the ban.

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