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Should The Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

SCMP – 23rd Jan 2009

I refer to the letter by Winnie Fong (Talkback, January 17) with regard to the no-smoking laws, and take exception to smokers being defined as selfish.

As a non-smoker, I can appreciate that some smokers are less than considerate, but as the new legislation has pushed them all onto our footpaths, it is hardly surprising that we are now more aware of smokers than before.

First, whether you like smokers or not, the current legislation does not prevent people smoking. In fact, it has been reported that smoking among teenagers has increased year on year, not declined.

What the legislation does is put smokers on the street.

One can argue that smoking is an anti-social habit and impacts all those it comes into contact with, but I would argue that I would much prefer to allow (even through a licence, as one would do with alcohol for bars) certain establishments to apply for exemptions so that those who want to smoke can, and those who do not smoke do not have to go in.

Surely this is better than the current situation, where the smoke is pushed outside so we get a good lungful every time we pass a group of stressed-out office workers puffing away.

The chief executive must have considered the financial impact of the smoking ban in the current economic climate, and the possibility that its full implementation could be delayed or amended to help the catering and entertainment industry. This must especially be the case, considering that the British bar and restaurant sectors have been decimated since the country put similar laws into place.

Create legislation by all means, but in their current form the smoking regulations need to be revisited.

Hong Kong was established on the opium and tobacco trade, and although that was a long time ago, we should not go around picking on people for an addictive habit that governments were all too happy to propagate for tax-raising reasons until very recently.

Callan Anderson, Quarry Bay

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