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Clear The Air successful in persuading HKG Government to change litter bins in non smoking areas

Ashtrays in rubbish bins encourage smoking.

Ashtrays in rubbish bins encourage smoking.


Dear FHB,

Can you please explain why, in an indoor pedestrian overpass, it is the official policy of the FHB to put out rubbish bins with ashtrays in them ?  It is illegal to carry a lighted tobacco product here, so anyone using the ashtrays is breaking the law – assisted by the FHB policy that mandates ashtrays on rubbish bins.

These ashtrays encourage smokers to smoke in places where it is illegal.  You may contact your own FEHD Tobacco Control office and the Council On Smoking and Health, who will each tell you that ashtrays in rubbish bins encourage smoking (legal and illegal) – and send the wrong message to the public.  When you put out ashtrays the message you are sending is “We want you to smoke here !!!  We will even clean up your butts for you !!! “

Also, most smokers do not extinguish their butts before tossing them in ashtrays, so they cigarette continues to “smoke” and pollute the air long after the smoker has left.

Can the FHB please instruct the FEHD to remove the tops of all rubbish bins in all covered locations where smoking is illegal – or replace them with rounded tops (not flat tops, which are used as ashtrays).  You will notice that the MTR does not put ashtrays or lids on their rubbish bins anymore.  They have learned that it just encourages smoking.

You may contact Tobacco Control who have many reports from me of illegal smoking in places that have ashtrays on rubbish bins, but very few where there are no ashtrays.

Please set the correct rubbish bin policy for health, while de-normalizing smoking, and do not reward illegal smoking by providing ashtrays or flat topped rubbish bin covers.

Finally, can you please wait to reply to this email until after you have contacted both Tobacco Control and COSH and come up with an integrated plan to eliminate government provided ashtrays completely and flat top rubbish bins from all statutory non-smoking areas

I am happy to give a tour to anyone at the FHB to show how putting out ashtrays – and flat top rubbish bins, actually rewards people who smoke illegally.

Thank you.


Annelise Connell

FHB had replied the e-mail. Hit the jump and see the reply letter.

Dear Ms Connell,

Thank you for your email below and two other emails on 7 February.  and I apologize for not replying earlier as we have been coordinating efforts with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) and the Tobacco Control Office over the past few months.

Please be informed that FEHD has already replaced rubbish bins with ashtray by those without at all enclosed footbridges, pedestrian subways and covered public transport interchanges (PTIs) which are statutory no-smoking areas.  As such, there should now be no more rubbish bins with ashtrays in public no smoking areas.

We plan to designate all open air PTIs that fulfill the criteria set out in section 3(1AB) of the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance  as no smoking areas this year.  In so doing, we will liaise with FEHD to ensure that rubbish bins with ashtrays would not be placed in these PTIs once they become statutory no smoking areas.

The HKSAR Government has been taking  a multi-pronged approach, i.e. through a combination of legislation, taxation, publicity, education, enforcement as well as smoking cessation services, to contain the proliferation of tobacco use and minimise the impact of passive smoking on public health.   The Administration will continue to devote resources to promote a smoke-free culture and adopt appropriate measures towards this end.  We shall review the placement of rubbish bins with ashtrays in public places where smoking is allowed at an appropriate juncture.  Thank you once again for your support to our tobacco control policy.

(Miss Wan-in LI)
For Secretary for Food and Health

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