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HK Smoking Ban To Be Extended, Says Chow

Regina Leung, SCMP – Updated on Feb 13, 2009

Most public indoor areas will be made smoke-free premises when Hong Kong’s temporary smoking ban exemption ends on July 1, says Health Secretary York Chow Yat-ngok. He said the exemption would include bars, clubs, nightclubs, bathhouses and massage and mahjong parlours.

Speaking at the International Symposium on Management of Tobacco Dependence, Dr Chow said late on Thursday smoking killed 6,900 people in Hong Kong annually. This made it one of the city’s leading causes of death.

“The world is in a tobacco epidemic. No nation is spared and no community exempt. We bear together the enormous health and social costs the epidemic has inflicted on us,” Dr Chow said.He said the ban was to reduce the medical costs incurred by smoking.

“A recent a local study found the annual value of medical and productivity loss from smoking amounts to HK$5 billion – in which 80 per cent were from active and the rest from passive smoking,” he said.

Dr Chow said a new fixed penalty system for smoking offences will also be launched in the coming months.

This will impose a HK$1,500 fine within 21 days to all offenders who smoke illegally. The smoking ban will also be extended to public transport interchanges.

The smoking ban has been in force in Hong Kong’s indoor public places since 2007. This includes workplaces, schools, restaurants and some outdoor areas such as beaches and parks.

According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco products kill more than five million people a year and will eventually kill 50 per cent of all regular smokers.

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