Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

April 15th, 2009:

Smoking Rooms Can’t Stop All Fumes: Study

Peter So, SCMP – Apr 15, 2009

Smoking rooms do not necessarily protect non-smokers outside the room from second-hand smoke, a government study has found.

The study conducted for the Food and Health Bureau suggests it would be “practically impossible to prevent leakage” of smoke when people moved in and out of the rooms.

The research, by the University of Science and Technology, also suggests the fresh air ventilation rate outside the room needs to be at least three times the rate of a typical office to keep the leaked second-hand smoke at an undetectable level.

“None of the evidence gathered suggests that smoking rooms can be effective in fully protecting non-smokers from second-hand smoke,” according to the study findings set out in a paper for legislators.

The bureau launched a feasibility study in 2006 on introducing smoking rooms in bars and clubs when their reprieve from the ban on smoking in public venues ends in July, followed by introduction of a HK$1,500 fixed penalty in September.

Venue operators have touted the rooms as a lifeline to save their businesses after the ban takes effect.

But the study raised doubts on the practicability of installing and operating smoking rooms in the city’s buildings because of the technical complexity and high cost.

“It is difficult for business to comply with the stringent requirements for the construction, operation and maintenance of smoking rooms … and even more difficult for government to ensure all smoking rooms are always properly constructed, managed and maintained to standard at all times,” the study says.

The Legco paper lists 91 indoor or covered transport interchanges that will ban smoking in September. The ban will cover boarding and waiting areas, and areas passengers pass to get to the interchanges.