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Should The Ban On Smoking In Bars Be Delayed?

Dec 06, 2008 – SCMP

James Middleton, chairman of the anti-tobacco committee of Clear the Air (Talkback, December 2), takes issue with the Entertainment Business Rights Concern Group (Talkback, November 28) and accuses it of wanting to profiteer by failing to protect catering workers from harmful cigarette smoke in bars and entertainment facilities which still permit smoking.

I, too, am a member of Clear the Air but have long argued that its remit should be cleaning up Hong Kong’s polluted atmosphere and the air pollution on our streets.

Smoking indoors is mainly a personal health issue, not a major pollution issue.

Clear the Air uses emotive language to try to convince the world that only it is right about indoor smoking in bars, to wit, “This flagrant attempt to abuse workers’ rights is typical and akin to the Liberal Party’s disregard for the health of workers in the catering industry”.

What Clear the Air ignores is that these workers and customers should also have the right to smoke if they so wish, provided they are in “smoking” premises.

I have a very small residual interest in an English pub and I can state truthfully that over 23 years, 95 per cent of the staff were smokers and wanted to smoke while on duty.

During this time not one of our customers was ever forced to come into our premises and inhale second-hand cigarette smoke. They had a choice – not to come in.

This never, incidentally, stopped the eminent Clear the Air tobacco group chairman, Mr Middleton, from visiting our premises.

The answer to this problem is not “separated smoking areas”, as now being considered by the government (this would not work), but “smoking” bars and entertainment facilities and “non-smoking” premises, depending on a business owner’s choice.

P. A. Crush, Sha Tin

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