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September 5th, 2009:

Is the fixed-penalty fine for smoking offences effective?


The smoking ban has been extended to include 48 covered public transport interchanges (“New bans and fines failing to deter smokers”, September 2).

However, there are not enough tobacco control officers, or staff from the other departments, to issue the fixed-penalty tickets. If there are not enough officers to patrol the new restricted areas, smokers will continue to light up.

It would appear that the issuing of tickets is fairly rare. Therefore, the new rule is not deterring smokers because there is little chance of them being caught and having to pay the penalty.

Most smokers do not care about the extended ban.

I think the problem has been made worse, because smokers are unclear about the rules.

From my observations, it would appear that only a few posters have been put up in bus terminals telling smokers that, from September 1, smoking is banned. However, it is not made clear which are the restricted areas and where smoking is allowed.

This makes it really hard for smokers to follow the rules, because the instructions are unclear, and so people continue to smoke where they should not.

It is also difficult for officials to take action against someone when they receive a complaint from a member of the public. After all, it does not take that long to smoke a cigarette and stub it out.

Education is the key to getting people to obey the rules and not light up in no-smoking areas. This is far more important than imposing penalties.

Gladys Ho, Tsuen Wan

The smoking ban was extended to transport interchanges from the beginning of this month. I am a non-smoker and support it.

It means passengers do not have to put up with second-hand smoke when queuing up for a bus. However, I have my doubts about how effective it has been.

Before the ban was fully extended, some government departments were saying it would mean an increased workload on their staff.

A law can only be effective if it has suitable penalties and enough people to enforce that law.

If departments cannot, or will not, take action to fine people who break the law, then it will fail to have the desired deterrent effect.

The relevant departments have been designated the roles of enforcers of this particular law, and they should do their jobs.

Mak Ka-chun, Yuen Long