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Should The Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

Updated on Jan 20, 2009 – SCMP

While it is understandable that some businesses in Hong Kong fear they may lose customers and thereby profits if wider smoking bans are introduced, let us not lose sight of the bigger issues.

By providing places for people to smoke, smoking is encouraged.

By it being made comparatively easy to find a public place to smoke, more cigarettes will be consumed.

The consumption of cigarettes will lead to more smoking-induced illnesses, and about half of all smokers will die protracted and painful deaths as a result.

Delaying the introduction of wider smoking bans might well add to the profits of some bars and restaurants as smokers would presumably prefer to go to them (though non-smokers might eschew them).

But at what cost? The health costs to individuals, smokers and passive smokers who work in smoke-polluted rooms are known and are grave. The cost to the smoker’s family, when illness debilitates him, is also grave.

The sick smoker’s medical and social security costs to the whole community are other factors to be weighed against the profits of the few.

All in all, on health, economic and indeed on humanitarian grounds, to delay further restricting indoor smoking areas is indefensible.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

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