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Smoking Ban

Hong Kong Smoking Ban

What do you think about the smoking ban after a year?

Published in the SCMP – Updated on Dec 31, 2007

We should look ahead at how to make the prohibition of smoking in restaurants and other places in Hong Kong more effective in 2008 and beyond.

The ban has resulted in smoke-free shops, hotel lobbies and some (but not all) bars and restaurants. Dining out in a smoke-free atmosphere makes for a great improvement but too many bars-cum-restaurants have exemptions, making the visitor obliged to inhale smoke emitted by others.

That carries with it even greater health risks to the unfortunate staff, who are obliged to breathe in second-hand smoke every day at their workplace. The long-term effects of this will sadly mean illness, even death, for some of them.

The sooner these numerous exemptions are withdrawn, the better.

In public areas where smoking is supposed to be prohibited, smokers are often seen indulging their habit. These include train stations and the Central escalator, for example.

More effective enforcement action is clearly needed in such places.

Many restaurants have set up smoking areas outside their entrances, with an open frontage to the street. Consequently, patrons inside are still subjected to smokers’ fumes, blown in off the street. Clearly, such smoking areas should be out of range of the restaurants.

Office building approaches are now littered with discarded fag ends and when you visit an office block, you often have to pass by people smoking heavily on both sides of the entrance. Firms should make provision for smokers on a rooftop or terrace, and there should also be in-house quitting campaigns.

As the intention of the legislation is to see a general reduction in smoking, the duty-free allowance for cigarettes should be withdrawn.

More sustained campaigns against smoking are clearly needed. But this first year of partial prohibition has generally been accepted and is certainly to be welcomed.

What is now needed is to stiffen the provision of anti-smoking methods, as outlined above, with the intention of better safeguarding the health of us all, smokers and non-smokers alike.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

Smoke-Free Policy Legislation Failure

The Editor
South China Morning Post

Dear Sir

Paul Surtees (Talkback 31 Dec) provides an excellent summary of the frank failure of the current smoke-free policy legislation to protect large numbers of people from tobacco smoke. The catering industry ,while not fully supportive of the policy, did ask the government to at least give them a level playing field. They didn’t get it and since then the Department of Health has expended considerable resources trying to deal with manoeuvres to by-pass the legislation.

One way of doing this is simply to change the venue’s name to include the word “bar”. Others pretend they can be non-smoking at certain hours of the day or days of the week when they want to attract different clientele, including families and offer children’s menus. At the same time they defend their exempted status with spurious arguments about the proportion of their revenue from alcohol sales. All this is understandable given the vagaries of the Bill and the unequal constraints placed on their ability to compete for custom.

The government will privately argue that covert deals with vested interests were needed to push through the tobacco control Bill. In doing so they abrogated their duty of care to the workforce and with over 1300 exemptions subjected thousands of workers to irreversible harm to their heart and lung function. The government ignored the overwhelming global evidence that second-hand smoke kills and that comprehensive smoke free policies ultimately benefit the hospitality sector.

Paul Surtees rightly looks to make the policy more effective, but the government is now looking at proposals by The Hon. Tommy Cheung Yu Yan and British American Tobacco to create smoking rooms in catering venues. Nothing could be more
damaging to the industry, workers, patrons and the health care system of Hong Kong.

Anthony Hedley
School of Public Health
University of Hong Kong

France To Introduce Nationwide Smoking Ban

By RIA Novosti (MCT)
Saturday, December 29, 2007 1:56 AM CST

PARIS — France will introduce a nationwide ban on smoking in most public places from January 1, 2008, the French health minister said Friday.

Eleven months after smoking became illegal in offices, schools, hospitals, airports and train stations, Europe’s heaviest smokers, the French will now be banned from smoking in cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels, clubs and casinos.

“The ban has been ready for a year and everyone knows that it is coming into effect. No one can say they were taken by surprise,” said Health Minister Roselyne Bachelot.

However, the minister said the ban will be enforced gradually and police will be in no hurry to impose fines for those caught smoking on the first few days after New Year.

Meanwhile, French cafe owners fear that they will lose clients and their profits could plunge. Owners of France’s 800 shisha bars are particularly concerned by the new law fearing it will lead to mass closures. (Shisha is flavored tobacco smoked through a water pipe — also known as hookah.)

Psychologists also warned that the country with 15-million smokers could face a shock.

France is the latest of the EU member states to ban smoking in public places.

In 2004, Ireland became the first European country to introduce a comprehensive ban, prohibiting smoking in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed workplaces. Ireland’s anti-smoking measures were followed by Italy, Norway, Sweden, the U.K, Denmark and Portugal.

Hong Kong Smoking Ban

How do you feel about the smoking ban after a year?

Updated on Dec 20, 2007 SCMP

The “smoking ban” is a farce that panders to the business whims of the Liberal Party.

Any licensed premises wishing to get an exemption can do so until July 1, 2009, by simply filling out a form and applying to our “health department”.

This ludicrous exemption is not only unjust under any sensible, fair competition law, it obviates the total idea of the anti-smoking legislation, which is to protect the health of catering workers forced to breathe the equivalent of a packet of cigarettes a day.

Meanwhile, their employers remain liable under existing workplace health and safety laws for not keeping the workplace safe from dangers to the health of the workers.

The slow-burning side-stream smoke from the tip of a cigarette is four to six times more toxic than the smoke inhaled by the smokers, and this comprises 85 per cent of the cigarette smoke in a room at any one time.

A University of Hong Kong study shows passive smoking kills an average of 1,324 innocent people a year of the 6,000-plus tobacco deaths in Hong Kong.

James Middleton, Clear the Air Hong Kong

Slowly, China tries to break tobacco habit

Slowly, China tries to break tobacco habit

That won’t be easy where even many doctors still smoke.

By Tim Johnson

McClatchy Newspapers

BEIJING – Smoking has no place at the Olympic Games. But Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan is a reluctant antismoking crusader. After all, he’s a smoker.

He has company at the Olympic Village, where the chief of the Games’ organizing committee also can sometimes be seen through a haze of cigarette smoke.

An astonishing number of China’s cabinet members and sports officials are among the 350 million Chinese whose cigarette habits support a state industry that is generating more taxes in China than any other industry.

Smoking is common even at the Health Ministry. Deputy Minister Gao Qiang smokes heavily, and surveys show that more than 50 percent of China’s male doctors and health workers smoke.

“They are under high pressure, stress, so they smoke to get relief,” said Zhi Xiuyi, the nonsmoking chief of the lung cancer center at Capital Medical University hospital.

Under growing criticism from the World Health Organization and other international bodies, China is slowly combating tobacco usage.

It has agreed to put warning labels on cigarette packs by 2009 and prohibit tobacco-related advertising and promotion by 2011. Last month, Beijing banned smoking in the city’s 66,000 taxis.

But the state tobacco monopoly keeps increasing production. It’s on course to crank out more than two trillion cigarettes this year. Smokers snap up packs of White Sand, Red Pagoda, Yellow Mountain, and 400 other national brands, adding to state coffers. The tobacco industry contributes $31 billion a year in taxes.

In March, the deputy chief of the state tobacco monopoly warned antismoking campaigners not to press too hard.

“We take very seriously the health dangers of smoking, but not having cigarettes also impacts stability,” Zhang Baozen, deputy chief of the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration, told state television.

Cigarette taxes provide Beijing with steady revenue. According to the World Bank, 8 percent of China’s central revenues come from taxes on cigarettes, compared with 3 percent in Britain, 1.8 percent in India, and 0.4 percent in the United States.

Yet there are signs that the central government is embracing limited antismoking efforts, wary of being out of step with much of the rest of the world.

Last year, Beijing ratified a World Health Organisation antismoking convention that commits it to curb smoking in public places, such as schools and buses, and further limit cigarette advertising.

Global health advocates are urging China to reexamine the economic burden of health issues tied to smoking.

The WHO says that one million Chinese die every year from diseases related to smoking and that the toll will climb to 2.2 million fatalities a year by 2020 if current rates continue. It says China faces $5 billion a year in smoking-related health-care costs, part of what it calls a “massive tobacco burden.”

Perhaps even more surprising, the World Health Organisation says that one-third of all Chinese men below the age of 30 today eventually will die of smoking-related disorders.

Part of the reason is that Chinese are smoking at a younger age and smoking more per day. In 1984, the average age when people began to smoke was 22.4 years. By 2006, it was 19.7.

As incomes rise, Chinese smoke more often. Average daily consumption has risen from four cigarettes in 1972 to 10 cigarettes in 1992 and to about 15 today.

Smoking is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture – male culture, that is.

In China, 63 percent of men smoke, while only 3 percent of women do. At weddings, the bride normally circles the reception hall, offering cigarettes to each man, a rite said to augur well for her eventual childbearing. Cigarettes are also handed out at funerals. Between courses at banquets, male diners frequently pause for a smoke.

China’s soaring economy is precisely why some antismoking activists see light ahead. They say the state-owned cigarette companies are becoming a smaller portion of total tax revenue for the government, making measures to contain smoking more feasible.

In a move that pleased antismoking activists, China last year ratified the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which requires it to stiffen bans on advertising and promotion. As a result, Beijing told the television industry to cut down on unnecessary smoking scenes and pledged that the 2008 Beijing Summer Games would be smoke-free.

Smoking Ban Opportunity Missed

Smoking ban ‘bungled quit goal’

Anita Lam
Updated on Dec 11, 2007

The government missed a golden opportunity to help smokers quit when the smoking ban was introduced almost a year ago, campaigners say.

The comments yesterday followed a poll that found that since the smoking ban was imposed on January 1, nearly one in seven smokers had little idea of what could help them quit apart from will-power.

Some 43.8 per cent said air quality was better and 37.1 per cent said the ban had cut involuntary inhalation of second-hand smoke.

But 72.2 per cent of non-smokers said promotion of cessation services was inadequate and free anti-smoking drugs should be offered.

The Alliance for Patients’ Mutual Help Organisations and Quit-Winners Club interviewed 1,004 people.

Homer Tso Wei-kwok, chairman of the Council on Smoking and Health, said the government had missed the best chance to convert smokers. “For many smokers, the will to quit is momentary.”

He said finance was also an obstacle, with a complete course of nicotine chewing gums and patches costing up to HK$3,000.

Health Department clinics offer free anti-smoking drugs to people on the dole, but only samples or limited doses are provided to others.

Lo Wing-lok, chairman of People’s Health Action, said authorities should at least subsidise medication for the poor, and heavy smokers.

Successful Implementation of Smoking Bans

Stop smoking NHS clinics ‘work’

NHS ‘stop smoking’ clinics have been hailed a success after figures showed particular progress in deprived areas.

The study found 8.8% of smokers in poorer areas had quit at the four-week mark, compared to 7.8% elsewhere.

The comparison is particularly relevant as smoking is a key factor in health inequalities with those from deprived backgrounds more likely to smoke.

The Bath University-led team compiled the data from the 1.5m people using the clinics in England from 2003 to 2006.

Smoking cessation clinics, offering counselling and treatment in the form of nicotine replacement therapy, were set up in 1999.

“This study shows that extra NHS cash really has managed to get more people to stop smoking”
Tim Crayford, of the Association of Directors of Public Health

Lead researcher Dr Linda Bault, who worked with experts from Edinburgh University, said: “Our study shows that the NHS stop smoking services are helping to reduce the health gap between rich and poor, which is good news for the overall health of the nation.”

But she added stop smoking services had to be accompanied by the continued successful implementation of smoking bans and rises in tobacco prices to have a wider effect.

The study, published in the Tobacco Control journal, compared data from smokers who accessed services in officially designated disadvantaged areas, called spearhead areas which have received extra funds and cover just over a quarter of the population, and compared them with other areas of the country.

The study found that quit rates were slightly lower for smokers from spearhead areas, at 53% at four weeks compared with 58% elsewhere.

Good news

But it added the services were treating them in larger numbers as a proportion of overall smokers than their more affluent neighbours, 17% compared with 13% elsewhere.

The overall effect was that a higher proportion of smokers in the more disadvantaged areas were successful in quitting.

Although previous research has shown that of those who quit after a month, less than one in four were still not smoking by the year-mark.

Tim Crayford, of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said: “This study shows that extra NHS cash really has managed to get more people to stop smoking. That is good news for the health of the country.

“Better still, the NHS has worked with smokers from deprived communities, and this will reduce health inequalities.”

He called for more money to be put into NHS services after recent predictions show the health service was heading for a £1.8bn surplus this year.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said NHS smoking cessation services had been “highly effective”.

And she added: “Narrowing the inequalities gap is a major challenge, but it is achievable.”

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/12/05 02:12:13 GMT

London’s economy boosts Capital Pub Company

Published in The Publican on the 27th of November 2007:

By Hamish Champ

No sign of a spending downturn in the city, says David Bruce

Despite fears of a downturn in consumer spending nationally, London’s ‘micro economy’ helped boost Capital Pub Company’s (CPC) trading in recent months, the group said today.

CPC’s chief executive David Bruce said the managed pubco was “lucky to be in the micro economy that is London. We’ve seen no evidence of a consumer downturn nor, with our pubs’ outside facilities, any problems relating to the smoking ban”.

He was speaking as the AIM-listed pub operator announced that turnover for the six months to September 29 had grown 36 per cent to £9.2m, with pre-tax profits, excluding profits on disposals, rose 19 per cent to £970,000.

Underlying earnings per share grew 11 per cent to 3.65p, while the interim dividend rose five per cent to 1.05p.

Acquisitions and “improved performance in the existing esate” were behind the figures, Bruce said.

On current trading Bruce said: “In spite of the poor weather, our national football team’s recent performances and the smoking ban we’ve seen no declines in either our food or drink volumes.”

CPC acquired four freehold pubs during the period for a total cost of £10.1m, plus it exchanged contracts on another freehold site for £2.2m.

It also recently exchanged contracts with Broken Foot Inns on a leasehold site in Kingston-upon-Thames, the Boaters Inns, for £450,000, which it expected to refurbish at a cost of £200,000.

“There’s a possibility we can persuade Kingston Borough Council to sell us the freehold [of the Boaters] one day,” Bruce said.

He said the group expected the pub to generate net sales of £200,000 per annum, giving a return on capital of around 30 per cent.

CPC aimed to double the size of its current 27-stong estate “in the medium term”, he added.

Brewer Fuller Sees Through Haze Of Smoking Ban

Pulished by Reuters on the 23rd of November 2007:

By Alastair Sharp

LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Fuller, Smith & Turner <FSTA.L>, one of London’s last remaining brewers, said a wet summer and the introduction of a smoking ban had not dented profits, as drinkers stuck with ales and smokers huddled in outside alcoves.

“Pubs without smoking are much nicer places to be,” Chairman Michael Turner told a press conference. “Long term it is going to be very positive for our trade.”

The London Pride brewer posted pretax profit of 12.7 million pounds ($26.3 million) in the 26 weeks to Sept. 29, up 16 percent, on revenue up 3 percent to 93.3 million pounds.

Shares in Fuller rose more than 8 percent to 600 pence by 1400 GMT, valuing the company at 194 million pounds.

Fuller said its own-brand sales rose 4 percent, while foreign beer sales declined 2 percent, as many drinkers turned away from lager in the wet summer.

The company estimated it spent 3 million pounds preparing its pubs for the smoking ban by upgrading outside seating and heating, and introducing promotions.


Fuller exports 10 percent of its beer by volume, primarily to North America and Europe, and has seen strong growth in new markets, particularly Russia, China and Japan.

“There is a large demand for good, premium Western brands, and prices aren’t that much of an issue,” said John Roberts, managing director of the beer division, adding the company was also looking to invest in India.

Panmure Gordon analyst Douglas Jack said the results were broadly in line with his expectations, and kept a “buy” rating on the stock and a target price of 840 pence.

“With the strongest balance sheet within its peer group, the company is well positioned to make further acquisitions or buy back equity,” Jack said in a note.

Fuller did not deny such speculation on Friday, with Emeny saying the firm will maintain an acquisition programme that is “dependent on quality pubs being available at suitable prices.”

(Additional reporting by Marc Jones, Editing by Erica Billingham)

Non-smokers the big winners when it comes to smoking bans

Medical Studies/Trials
Published: Thursday, 22-Nov-2007

American scientists have found that heart attacks decreased after a smoking ban was imposed but this only applied to non-smokers.

Their study suggests that the major benefit of the ban on smoking in public places is being seen in nonsmokers.

The researchers from Indiana University say even those with no risk factors for heart disease can still experience heart attacks but after a countywide smoking ban was implemented, hospital admissions for such heart attacks dropped 70 percent for non-smokers, but not for smokers.

The researchers conducted the study in order to investigate whether smoking bans led to any changes in hospital admissions for myocardial infarction (MI).

They did this by comparing hospital admissions for MI in Monroe County, Indiana, which has had a public smoking ban in place since August 2003, with those in Delaware County, also in Indiana, which has much in common with Monroe Country but does not have a smoking ban.

Dong-Chul Seo, lead author and an assistant professor in IU Bloomington’s Department of Applied Health Science, says heart attack admissions for smokers saw no similar decline during the study, so the benefits of the ban appear to come more from the reduced exposure to second-hand smoke among non-smokers than from reduced consumption of tobacco among smokers.

The study is the first to examine the effect of public smoking bans on heart attacks in non-smokers.

Previous studies did not distinguish between non-smokers and smokers when examining the effect of the bans or specifically look at non-smokers who had no risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or previous heart surgery.

Experts say exposure to second-hand smoke for just 30 minutes can rapidly increase a person’s risk for heart attack, even if they have no risk factors because the smoke, which contains carbon monoxide, causes blood vessels to constrict and reduces the amount of oxygen that can be transported in the blood.

The researchers say it is of concern that about half of all non-smoking Americans are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, even though more than 500 municipalities nationwide have adopted some form of a smoking ban in public places.

The study also compared the hospital admissions in Monroe county before and after the smoking ban was adopted and found there was a 70 percent drop in the number of hospital admissions for AMI among non-smoking patients with no history of heart disease.

The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Drug Education.