Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

August, 2009:

Text of Shanghai draft

Shanghai released its draft legislation for public comment today. The comment period runs through September 10. You’ll find the announcement of the public comment period at

The following links are the text of the draft legislation in English.

It is thought the People’s Congress will be holding an online discussion about the draft legislation on August 31.

Six Tobacco control measures can counter the epidemic

World Health Organization


M onitor tobacco use and prevention policies
P rotect people from tobacco smoke
O ffer help to quit tobacco use
W arn about the dangers of tobacco
E nforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
R aise taxes on tobacco (Flyer in Chinese) (Flyer in English)

The impact of pictures on the effectiveness of tobacco warnings

Download (PDF, 1.15MB)

Is enough being done to police the smoking ban?


It is impossible for the government to punish every person who chooses to flout the smoking ban. I do not think there are enough tobacco-control officers to supervise the smokers. It is impractical for the government to ask the public to report smokers. Even if someone sees an individual breaking the law in the street, by the time the officer arrives, the person may have left. I think more of these officers need to be deployed on Hong Kong’s streets.

The government must also broadcast more television adverts and use them to educate people to obey the law.

Agnes Yu, Kwun Tong

City council considers adults only certificate for films featuring smoking

Mark Pownall

1 London

Liverpool City Council is considering giving films that have characters who smoke an “18+” certificate.

In some parts of the city between 40% and 50% of adults smoke, twice the national prevalence in England of 22%. Local health officials say that the proposal is part of a series of public health measures that the city has championed for its smoke-free Liverpool strategy. In 2004 the city voted for a ban on smoking in public, but this was overtaken by national legislation in July 2007.

The national British Board of Film Classification awards films an 18 rating “where material appears to risk harm to individuals,” and the local primary care trust is hoping that Liverpool’s move will put the board under pressure to apply such a rating nationally to films featuring smokers.

The proposal takes advantage of the right of local authorities’ licensing committees to overrule the board’s decisions and make their own judgments on films where they have good local reasons for doing so.

In the past councils have used the power to stop controversial films being shown in cinemas, including Monty Python’s Life of Brian, banned by several councils.

Paula Grey, director of public health at the city council and at Liverpool Primary Care Trust in a joint appointment, said that the powerful influence of films was brought to the trust’s attention by young people themselves during youth advocacy work on smoking.

“In Liverpool we have a big problem of young people starting to smoke, and young people identified movies as probably the biggest single influence,” she explained. She added that celebrity actors are powerful role models for young people.

“As a society we have got rid of tobacco advertising, yet we have Hollywood movies promoting smoking as a cool and sexy thing to do. It’s completely inconsistent,” she said.

“We have been trying to get the [British Board of Film Classification] to implement its own guidelines and recognise that smoking is a dangerous activity, but their current strategy is to refuse to accept that smoking is an activity with a risk of harm.”

Rob Barnett, a Liverpool GP and secretary of the BMA local medical committee, said that it was difficult to get the under 16s to stop smoking once they had started.

“Many films targeted at young people have scenes of smoking in them. If smoking is in your face in films, that just adds to peer pressure to smoke and can tip youngsters over the edge into deciding to start smoking,” he said.

Amanda Sandford, research manager for the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health, said: “The [classification board] should take a stronger line and tighten up its guidelines. If films portray smoking, cinemas should be required to run advertising on the dangers of smoking.”


Is enough being done to police the smoking ban?


I would like to report that the Tobacco Control Office requires a very high standard of evidence before considering taking action against a smoker.

It is not enough for a complainant to have had multiple witnesses, even if some could identify and name the culprit, having seen him with a lit cigarette in a no-smoking area, and building caretakers who recorded the culprit’s name and identity card number – all recorded on closed-circuit television.

This relates to an incident on August 4, when I was leaving my workplace shortly after the typhoon signal No 8 was issued.

I immediately noticed that the lift was smoky and I pointed out a man holding a lit cigarette to the caretakers on the ground floor. I asked them to report the incident to the Tobacco Control Office for prosecution.

On Monday, four tobacco control officers visited my office, not to take my statement, but to explain the situation.

Apparently, this was a “minor offence”, with not enough evidence. If an officer had been present at the time, he could have requested the offender to put out the cigarette, and educated him about statutory no-smoking areas.

The situation will improve in September, when the office will be able to issue a HK$1,500 fixed-penalty fine – but the Tobacco Control Office does not plan to station an officer in the lift 24/7.

A tiny minority of smokers are so anti-social that they uncaringly release poisonous gases in lifts – the most enclosed spaces that we regularly use.

As the Tobacco Control Office will never have enough officers to station one in every lift, we must find other ways to stamp out this practice.

The office could publish explicit guidelines to the public on how to collect enough evidence to enable prosecution.

We could fit smoke detectors in every lift.

Does the office have the determination to seek out innovative ways of achieving its priority?

Allan Dyer, Wong Chuk Hang

In every bar and most restaurants in Hong Kong there is a tobacco control enforcement officer, namely the liquor licence holder.

Not one of them is “powerless” to prevent smoking.

They have the power and a duty, under their liquor licence, to call the police if someone is smoking.

They are required to prevent crimes, such as solicitation for sex, gambling and smoking, in their bar or restaurant.

They are very powerful. It is their deliberate choice to turn their workplaces into “vice establishments”.

Once the building owner is made aware, if the owner does nothing, then the police can shut the place down and the landlord cannot rent it out again for several months.

Annelise Connell, Stanley

British American Tobacco recruits bank chief Richard Burrows as chairman

Source: published on 16 Dec 2008

John Waples and Tom Lyons

Richard Burrows, a former governor of the Bank of Ireland, is to take on one of the most powerful roles in British business.

He is to become chairman of British American Tobacco, which is among the top 10 quoted companies in the FTSE 100 and the world’s second-largest cigarette maker, worth £38 billion. His appointment at the group — whose top brands include Dunhill, Kent and Lucky Strike — is expected to be confirmed this week.

However, it could cause controversy due to his prior role at Bank of Ireland (BoI). The bank was badly hit during the financial crisis and had to seek fresh capital from the state. Burrows was forced to apologise to the bank’s investors at its last annual meeting for “the loss in value of their stock and for the cancellation of dividends”.

Burrows, who joined the court of the BoI in 2000 before becoming governor in July 2005, stepped down to be replaced by Pat Molloy, a former chief executive of the bank.

BAT’s big investors, though, have accepted that despite the controversy at Bank of Ireland, Burrows, 63, is an experienced boardroom operator. He was a former chief executive of Pernod Ricard, the drinks giant, and now holds board positions at Carlsberg and Rentokil Initial, the pest control group.

Virginia Bottomley, the former Conservative minister turned headhunter, led the search for a new chairman. Burrows will fill the vacancy left by Jan du Plessis, the non-smoking South African who announced in April that he was stepping down after taking up the chairmanship of Rio Tinto, the mining giant.

The attraction to BAT of its incoming chairman is his international experience and knowledge of marketing and branding. BAT employs 56,000 workers and has 49 factories in 41 countries. It operates in 180 markets and is the most international of all the tobacco companies.

Burrows takes over at a time when BAT has enjoyed a highly profitable five years under the stewardship of Du Plessis and Paul Adams, its chief executive. During that period the share price has risen by 130%.

BAT reported a 16% rise in first-half profits at the end of July driven by continuing price rises and recent acquisitions. Pre-tax profits in the first half of the year rose from £1.8 billion to £2.1 billion and revenue was up by 24%, from £5.5 billion to £6.8 billion.

In Ireland, Burrows is best-known as the former chief executive of Irish Distillers, a position he held for 22 years, during which time he pioneered the global expansion of Jameson whiskey. A competitive yachtsman, Burrows was a member of the syndicate that funded Green Dragon, Ireland’s entry for the Volvo Ocean Race being run at present.

A number of senior City figures have seen their reputations damaged after serving on the boards of banks that have had to be rescued by the taxpayer. Some investors are reluctant to see them join the boards of other companies.

Andy Hornby, former chief executive of HBOS, has made a comeback. But rather than face the wrath of investors running another public company he is now heading privately-owned Alliance Boots.

Burrows was not the only former bank chief who was considered for the top role at BAT. It is believed that Peter Sutherland, previously a board director at Royal Bank of Scotland and outgoing chairman of BP, the oil group, was also considered for the role.

Adult smoking rate off for 14th year

The Japan Times

Kyodo News

The percentage of smokers among adults has fallen 0.8 point from a year earlier to 24.9 percent, hitting a record low for the 14th straight year, an annual survey conducted in May by Japan Tobacco Inc. showed Friday.

“Multiple factors appear to have caused the decline, such as increased health awareness and tightening of regulations on smoking,” said Japan’s sole tobacco producer.

The smoking rate for men fell for the 18th consecutive year to 38.9 percent, down 0.6 point from the previous year, while the rate for women stood at 11.9 percent, down 1.0 point, following a 0.2 point rise the previous year.

Based on its latest survey, the total number of smokers was estimated at 26.01 million, down 790,000 from the previous year, JT said.

In addition to increasing restrictions on smoking in public places, the government’s introduction of the Taspo smart cards has apparently discouraged smoking, JT said.

The smart cards, which are only issued to people aged 20 or older and enable holders to buy cigarettes at vending machines, were introduced last July as a way to prevent underage smoking.

By region, Hokkaido had the highest smoking rates for both men and women, at 45.7 percent and 20.0 percent, respectively.

By age, smoking rates were highest among people in their 30s — 46.9 percent for men and 16.8 percent for women.

(C) All rights reserved

Is enough being done to police the smoking ban?


Apparently, the enforcement of the ban is too lax as we can still see smokers lighting up in indoor areas. Some smokers have moved to upstairs bars where they can enjoy their cigarettes without worrying about being caught.

Worse still, the owners of some bars actually provide ashtrays to their patrons. Although there are some owners who will try and persuade customers to put out their cigarettes, they are often ignored.

A ban that cannot be enforced is equal to having no law at all.

Those flouting the law will continue to light up and non-smokers will still be exposed to lethal second-hand smoke.

I would like to see Tobacco Control Officers increase the frequency of their patrols in areas such as SoHo and Lan Kwai Fong. I also think raids should be carried out in those upstairs pubs where smokers ignore the law.

I appreciate that pub owners face a dilemma, but they should play a more active role. For example, they should remove all ashtrays and urge customers who wish to smoke to go outside.

Non-smokers also have an important role to play. They can report venues where smokers are defying the ban to the respective government department.

I urge smokers to abide by the ban and show some consideration for non-smokers. Also, they must appreciate that they are breaking the law and if they are caught they will be fined. All they have to do to avoid that is go outside.

Mike Lam, Kwun Tong

Is enough being done to police the smoking ban?


I doubt if enough is being done. It astonishes me to see some people continuing to smoke indoors at venues where it is banned, even on the ground floor.

This reveals the inadequacy in the government’s enforcement policy.

The deterrent effect is inadequate, as smokers think that if they flout the law they will not be caught.

A more worrying problem is that the owners of some bars and mahjong parlours are turning a blind eye to smoking inside their establishments.

They will not strictly follow the law, as they do not shoulder any legal responsibilities, even if someone is caught smoking on their premises. They do not want to lose customers, especially during the present economic downturn. Clearly there is a loophole in the law.

Even if some bar owners do try to stop customers lighting up, they have no powers.

Therefore, more manpower should be allocated to enforce the law.

Frederic Lam Hei-wai, Kwun Tong