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August 4th, 2009:

Is enough being done to police the smoking ban?


That the press can so easily find smokers in violation of the law means those who are meant to police the ban have failed (“Many feel free to flout smoking ban”, August 1).

What is more troubling, however, is the degree to which the new law is being speciously blamed for the trouble pubs and massage and mahjong parlours say they are in – that they are on the verge of closing as a result of the smoking ban.

More likely, these businesses were teetering on the edge of profitability to begin with.

Publicans in just about every jurisdiction around the world that has enacted a similar ban, including those with storied drinking cultures such as Ireland and Australia, actually saw business improve once the air was cleared in their venues.

That is because the handful of smokers who stopped going out when they could no longer light up were replaced by many more non-smokers who had been forced to stay away from the toxic air.

I suspect we would have seen a similar transition here, had Hong Kong enacted its anti-smoking laws with a less protracted timetable.

The local economy of 18 months ago was a lot healthier.

Therein lies a valuable lesson to be learned by lawmakers and those who persist in postponing social progress.

Gary Brand, Mid-Levels