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July 5th, 2012:

Police turn blind eye to bar smokers

Clear the Air says:

This is the job of the Tobacco Control Office who carry the Fixed Penalty Notices; the police will only act in cases of breach of the peace or during a liquor licence check.

Sadly the last Tsang administration allocated only 106 Tobacco Control officers to operate in two shifts per day for the whole of HKI, Kowloon, NT and Islands to ’control’ 680,000 smokers and 36 million Mainland visitors where the males have a smoking rate of 63% . From the 106 officers, take away leave days , holidays and sickness and the result is – they cannot patrol, hence no prevention. Meanwhile there is no legal onus on bar licensees to enforce the law as there is overseas – in fact many bar owners encourage smoking so as to steal business from other bars and hotels that rightly prevent smoking and protect their staff and customers.

TCO can only operate on complaints, several days later which is less than ideal. There is no prevention capability. The number of tickets issued in bars is minimal, the majority being in game centres and outside the Hunghom railway station.

Macau has 77 TCO’s including auxiliaries for 514,000 population whilst HKG has only 106 TCO’s for 7.2 million and the smokers amongst 40 million tourists ( all of the tourists walk free from a ticket given the payment time allowed).

Making premises’ managers legally responsible for enforcing the law within the whole area of their licensed premises (or lose their licence to operate) would add perhaps 15,000 additional enforcement individuals to the Tobacco Control Office.  These laws are made to protect workers in the workplace and are being openly flouted with little chance of being caught.

SCMP Letters Jul 05, 2012

Police turn blind eye to bar smokers

My son is visiting Hong Kong from Colombia where he normally lives.

He was born here and still has a number of friends living in the city. On Saturday night, he went with some of those friends to Lan Kwai Fong, spending the evening in a few bars.

He has told me that he may not go there again because of the large number of people smoking in the bars.

It is an obnoxious habit, which research shows shortens people’s lives.

It also often affects in a negative manner the health of those who are unfortunate enough to be close to those smoking, especially bar staff, and it is against the law to smoke in bars and restaurants in Hong Kong.

My son was astonished and not a little upset to find out that the law is being flouted so openly.

In Colombia, a country which has a negative reputation regarding law and order, there is a similar law and it is, apparently, strictly adhered to. In Hong Kong, the police appear to have little interest in enforcing it.

If this is the case, and the evidence appears to concur with this opinion, then the police need to be brought to task.

May I suggest that people who are concerned about this issue contact the Office of the Ombudsman ( 2882-8149) to complain about the police wasting taxpayers’ money through not enforcing the relevant law?

Chris Stubbs, Discovery Bay