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Should The Full Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

Updated on Jan 03, 2009 – SCMP

Anti-smoking activists have a problem. Despite advertising bans, high duties and ample health warnings, including warnings that cigarette smoking can become addictive, some people still choose to smoke.

That is their right, as smoking is not illegal. Many pleasures in life carry associated risks. If people are warned about them and make an informed choice, that is their affair, provided that what they do remains legal.

Similarly, people should be left to choose whether to frequent or work in bars and restaurants that permit smoking.

Other bars and restaurants may ban smoking altogether and that is up to them.

People will “vote” on the issue based on which bars and restaurants they choose to frequent.

Nothing could be simpler or fairer. But faced with a situation in which people continue to make the “wrong” choice, anti-smoking activists react by advocating policies that encroach on a person’s right to choose and which, incidentally, are causing bars and restaurants to lose business and close down.

I have a choice whether to walk into a bar or restaurant and have a drink or a meal.

I may not have a choice to walk through a shopping mall or other enclosed public space – therefore smoking is already banned in these areas and that is fine.

Anthony Hedley (Talkback, December 31) states that “the majority in the hospitality industry” considers the present system of smoking and non-smoking areas to be unfair competition.

First, I would like to see the evidence of “majority”.

Second, I would venture to suggest that the majority in the hospitality industry has views similar to my own.

Third, it is more natural to equate competition with choice.

On a final note, I must reject those (including Professor Hedley) who claim that smoking is an environmental issue. The issue of smoking does not belong in the same debate as air pollution or climate change.

Markus Shaw, Central

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