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Smoking Rooms Proposed To Protect Non-Smokers

October 19, 2006 –

Secretary for Health, Welfare & Food Dr York Chow has reiterated the proposed establishment of “smoking rooms” aims to protect non-smokers, adding both the public and lawmakers will be widely consulted if the concept is found feasible.

He told reporters today when the new anti-smoking law comes into effect, many smokers may have to resolve to pursue their habit in open spaces. Non-smoking road users may probably be left without a choice but to become second-hand smokers.

“The primary consideration for setting up ‘smoking rooms’ is for the protection of non-smokers’ interest by separating smokers from non-smokers. The study will take one to two years to complete,” Dr Chow said.

The proposed ‘smoking rooms’ are meant to offer a venue to smokers for the sole purpose of smoking and no other activities. It has to be technically feasible to effectively bar emissions from leaking from the room, so as not to pollute air outside and jeopardise non-smokers’ health.

The bureau has not begun the study. Neither is there any conclusive evidence on its feasibility, nor has any consideration been given to details such as where these rooms should be installed.

If the idea is deemed viable, the bureau will widely consult the public. It will put forward a relevant proposal to the legislature and go through the usual legislative procedures before putting anything in place.

Regarding previous discussions on ‘smoking rooms’ by the Bills Committee on the 2005 Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Bill, it was a proposal of a different concept – a room with an independent ventilation system installed in the premises of the hospitality industry for its guests to enjoy the normal activities that the venue offers. At no stage has the bureau taken this proposal on board, and the bureau remains firmly against it.

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