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Should The Ban On Smoking Be Delayed?

Jan 16, 2009 – SCMP

As a lifelong non-smoker I fall into the category of not minding some smoke, but dislike the “it’s my right” attitude displayed by so many smokers and at times the physical assault by smoke that you have to endure.

The ban seems to be a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but just as happens so often on the mainland, the rules may be there, however, they are rarely enforced and certainly not consistently.

This leads to resentment on both sides of the fence, smokers and non-smokers, each believing the other is being unreasonable.

Anyone caught by the smoking ban will feel aggrieved that so many others escape sanction, while the non-smokers will rightly state that their health and safety is being put at risk by smokers with little respect for decent behaviour or the law.

Is the solution trial prosecutions of smokers who assault non-smokers with fumes under criminal rules relating to “assault with a deadly weapon” (the scientific evidence appears solid) or is that too extreme?

Certainly bars have been vocal over the loss of trade due to the smoking issue, although perhaps the effect will be less noticeable if a full ban is imposed, but is it a real solution in a “free” society?

Perhaps the problem is exacerbated by the pressures of big business and the more open layout of many bars, clubs and restaurants in recent years.

Perhaps the solution is to split establishments, with the “active smoking areas” paying more to compensate for the additional ventilation, and the cost of clearing the air and cleaning the curtains.

Clearly smokers have benefited from sharing these costs over the years and perhaps now is the time to redress the balance.

Nick Bilcliffe, Lamma Island

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