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Review Sought On Smoking Ban

Nishika Patel – The Standard – Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A swank Central bar-eatery that caters to the financial community is seeking the first judicial review to challenge no-smoking rules. Biztro, located in IFC, is fighting to quash an Appeal Board ruling that had upheld a decision by the director of health to enforce a smoking ban at the premises.

The director of health struck Biztro off a list of venues that are for now exempt from the smoking ban after two lunch-time visits to the premises last year determined it was more an eatery than a bar.

A review is being sought on the grounds that the court decision made in November last year was “irrational” as it was based on two visits in March and May for a total of 35 minutes.

“Only 35 minutes of lunch-time observations could not possibly have been a reasonable manner in which to determine the activities in the establishment of the applicants,” said lawyer Adrian Halkes in a written application for a judicial review.

Biztro maintains it is primarily a bar and that it derives most turnover from the sale of drinks rather than food – and most patrons smoke.

Halkes said the applicants, Arthur Lok Kok- cheong and Mark East Enterprise, had suffered a “denial of substantial justice” as the business had seen a drastic drop in sales in November and December last year following the decision.

The smoking ban was implemented last year, but bars, mahjong parlors, saunas and siuje nightclubs are exempt until July 1, 2009, to give them time to adapt.

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