Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image


Thailand Joins World With Smoking Ban In Bars

Thailand to ban smoking in bars, restaurants: Health ministry

BANGKOK (AFP) — Thailand will ban smokers from lighting up in bars, restaurants and open-air markets across the kingdom in a bid to curb smoking, the public health ministry said Friday.

The ban will take effect on February 11 and smokers violating the regulation will be fined 2,000 baht (60 dollars) with night club and restaurant owners facing a 20,000 baht fine, a health ministry official said.

Thailand already bans smoking at public places such as government buildings, train stations and hospitals. Hathai Chitanondh, who heads the anti-smoking NGO National Health Foundation, said he would lobby the government to expand the smoking ban to public beaches.

“Thailand is a leading country in this region to aggressively fight against smoking. We have reduced the number of smokers to around 9.4 million” of the 65 million population, Hathai told AFP.

In addition to banning smoking in Bangkok’s bars and nightclubs, the new regulation will also prevent people from lighting up in the popular Chatuchak market, the city’s biggest outdoor market and a major tourist draw, he said.

Although Thailand was long a holdout for smokers, Pavornwan Koonmongkon, president of the 70,000-member Thai Restaurant Association, said she believed the ban would face little resistance.

“Smokers usually cooperate and respect no-smoking rules. This shouldn’t cause any problems. I think it’s a sign of the success of the government’s campaign to raise public awareness about smoking,” she said.

Bars Keep Right To Host Smokers

Bars keep right to host smokers ( SCMP 6 Jan)

Mary Ann Benitez – Jan 06, 2008

A year after smoking was banned in public places, only one of 1,300 entertainment establishments granted exemption from the law until mid-2009 has lost that status.

Post 97 in Lan Kwai Fong lost its exemption 10 days ago after the Tobacco Control Office (TCO) deemed it to be a restaurant, meaning the ban should apply.

Six types of venues can apply to be exempt from the ban until July 1, 2009: bars that do not admit anyone under 18, mahjong clubs and parlours, commercial bath houses, massage establishments and nightclubs.

Since late 2006, the Tobacco Control Office said it had received about 1,500 applications for exemption, of which more than 1,280 were granted.

Delisted establishments may appeal to the Appeal Board within 14 days of losing their exemption.

Post 97 said it would not appeal. Its sister bars, La Dolce Vita and Club 97, are exempt from the ban.

Jamie Higgins, general manager of Post 97, was frank: “We are a restaurant, and we are not entitled to allow people to smoke. That is the law, in fact we were lucky to get away with it for as long as we did.”

He said that despite knowing the venue was a restaurant, they still applied for an exemption.

“Under the new law, so many restaurants and bars were applying for it, so we thought it would be easier to apply for it and then decide later on,” he said.

Mr Higgins added: “If anything, what the smoking ban will do is to bring us back more business at the weekend because children weren’t allowed to come to the restaurant because people were smoking.”

The TCO said: “We collect intelligence on non-compliance from various sources and upon receipt of such information, will investigate each and every case accordingly.”

Legislators have said the smoking ban is difficult to enforce because the TCO lacks inspectors.

Yesterday, anti-tobacco lobbyists wrote to legislators urging them to press the administration to “rescind these ludicrous politically motivated smoking exemptions”.

James Middleton of Clear the Air said there should be no exemptions. “To do otherwise is signing the death warrants of the staff and is encouraging our youth to smoke,” he said.

It’s Time To Build On Smoking Ban’s Success

LEADER Jan 02, 2008 SCMP

The year-old public smoking ban has, without doubt, saved lives by reducing people’s exposure to second-hand smoke. But as a society, we have not made much headway in encouraging smokers to quit or discouraging others from taking up the deadly habit. The ban, therefore, has only been a partial victory for public health in Hong Kong.

As we report today, tobacco imports for local consumption rose slightly last year compared with the 12 months before the ban was introduced in January last year. Customs seizures of smuggled cigarettes also shot up. Much work lies ahead if we are to reduce the number of smokers in the city and the cost to public health services. Still, what the anti-smoking ban has already achieved deserves recognition and celebration. It has overcome the resistance and scepticism of the food services industry. Many restaurateurs who originally complained about a drop in business from smoking customers now acknowledge that business has returned to normal; many say their establishments now attract non-smoking customers who tended to avoid them in the past. Their experience will, it is hoped, convince operators of massage and mahjong parlours, nightclubs and bars to comply with the law when their exemption from the ban expires on June 30 next year.

But the ban’s most important result is no doubt the number of lives that have been saved from diseases caused by the inhalation of other people’s smoke. Though the ban is only a year old, that number should be significant.

According to the US surgeon general, there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, which increases the risk of a heart attack by 30 per cent for non-smokers. This is on top of other smoke-related diseases they may develop from exposure.

Two new authoritative overseas studies, cited by the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, find that the number of heart attack admissions to hospitals dropped considerably just one year after a public smoking ban was imposed. Nine hospitals in Scotland experienced a 17 per cent drop in heart attack admissions a year after a ban was introduced in March 2006. New York State hospitals had, in general, an 8 per cent decline in admissions in 2004 after an anti-smoking law was introduced the year before. There is no reason to doubt something comparable has been achieved in Hong Kong with our own smoking ban.

But we need to do more. Food and Health Bureau officials should move quickly to streamline the ban’s enforcement by replacing the current summons system with a fixed penalty. This has widespread support among lawmakers, and its prompt passage by the Legislative Council is virtually guaranteed. What’s more, it will save the courts time and resources in having to handle summonses for smoking violations.

An unfortunate side effect of the indoor smoking ban is that it has pushed more smokers to light up in the streets. This has caused many people to complain frequently about having noxious fumes blown in their faces. In many overseas cities, people are banned from smoking outside main entrances to buildings and other public facilities. A similar ban should be considered in Hong Kong. Some established office buildings have already set aside smoking corners to stop smokers from causing a nuisance at entrances.

As a liberal society, we cannot outlaw smoking, but we should certainly do our best to ban the noxious practice where we can and frown upon it when we can’t.

Smoke Pollution at Water Margin, Discovery Bay

This letter was sent by Nigel Bruce, a member of  Clear The Air Hong Kong, to Lewis Ho and cc’ed to Douglas Louden of Hong Kong Resorts International Ltd in reference to smoking in Discovery Bay’s Water Margin Complex.

Dear Mr. Ho,

You will have seen the article in Sunday’s SCMP. The article omits to mention that an average of 60% of Water Margin tables are outdoors, and rather underestimates the number of Discovery Bay citizens who are fed up with dining through a pall of someone else’s smoke. As I have mentioned, the attraction of the Water Margin lies in its outdoor view and ambience – we know we can sit indoors to escape smoke pollution.

I happen to be a Clear The Air member who has been seeking discussion rather than confrontation, and who has written to you twice to seek clarification on HKRI’s environmental policy re. the combination of smoking and dining it allows to continue on such a large scale.

But I have yet to receive a reply.

I refer in particular to my question:

Also, when you say: “Having said that, however, we would encourage the individual restaurants to allocate non-smoking areas within their leased premises on a voluntary basis so that both the smoking and non-smoking population can enjoy the superb Water Margin outdoor experience”, does this mean that you have not actually entered into any discussions with your tenant restaurants about their smoking policies?

The restaurants in the Water Margin seem to be offering to discuss compromise (as well as taking legal action against Clear The Air!) – why then does Management not take a lead and open discussions with them, as you suggest they might in your reply of 16th October?

Kind regards,

Nigel Bruce

Smoke Free Al Fresco in Discovery Bay

See a letter sent to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department before this article was written: Water Margin OSA (Outdoor Seating Area) Air Quality and their reply here: Objection Against Outdoor Smoking in Discovery Bay Restaurants

Published in the SCMP on the 25th of November 2007:

Disco Bay eateries feel anti-smokers’ wrath

Barclay Crawford

Anti-smoking campaigners have vowed to continue their action against the popular al fresco dining area Water Margin in Discovery Bay if restaurants do not stop smokers lighting up.

Restaurant owners say lobby group Clear the Air’s stubborn stand – the group has refused to negotiate on the issue and did not inform owners before appealing against their licences – is against the wishes of residents and if successful would see 150 jobs lost.

But the group says it has the law on its side and will keep the pressure on until restaurants ban smoking in outside dining areas.

Clear The Air contacted the Sunday Morning Post after learning that residents had managed to stop restaurants above Kowloon Station opening outdoor dining areas.

The group objected to outdoor seating licences for the Water Margin restaurants to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department on the grounds that smoking in outdoor venues was “an environmental nuisance” to workers, passers-by, children and non-smoking patrons.

“It’s unacceptable that people should be smoking in that area where there are so many children,” James Middleton, from Clear the Air, said last week. “We will drop our objection if they ban smoking.”

But Greg Walker, the manager of Koh Tomyums, said restaurateurs were considering legal action against Clear the Air.

Mr Walker, who said he was forced to close a Wan Chai restaurant after revenue fell when the government banned smoking indoors this year, said the group was twisting regulations to achieve its aims.

“We really object to the way this has been done. They don’t come to us first, they just complain about our licences,” he said. “We would rather approach this in a low-key way and have patrons ask to move if someone is smoking, or ask the smoker to sit somewhere else. We don’t want social change done on our bill.”

James Norton, a regular at Hemingway’s, said Clear the Air was out of step with the rest of the community in Discovery Bay. “They are zealots and most of us do not welcome their behaviour and actions either here or in the rest of Hong Kong,” he said.

Brewer Fuller Sees Through Haze Of Smoking Ban

Pulished by Reuters on the 23rd of November 2007:

By Alastair Sharp

LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Fuller, Smith & Turner <FSTA.L>, one of London’s last remaining brewers, said a wet summer and the introduction of a smoking ban had not dented profits, as drinkers stuck with ales and smokers huddled in outside alcoves.

“Pubs without smoking are much nicer places to be,” Chairman Michael Turner told a press conference. “Long term it is going to be very positive for our trade.”

The London Pride brewer posted pretax profit of 12.7 million pounds ($26.3 million) in the 26 weeks to Sept. 29, up 16 percent, on revenue up 3 percent to 93.3 million pounds.

Shares in Fuller rose more than 8 percent to 600 pence by 1400 GMT, valuing the company at 194 million pounds.

Fuller said its own-brand sales rose 4 percent, while foreign beer sales declined 2 percent, as many drinkers turned away from lager in the wet summer.

The company estimated it spent 3 million pounds preparing its pubs for the smoking ban by upgrading outside seating and heating, and introducing promotions.


Fuller exports 10 percent of its beer by volume, primarily to North America and Europe, and has seen strong growth in new markets, particularly Russia, China and Japan.

“There is a large demand for good, premium Western brands, and prices aren’t that much of an issue,” said John Roberts, managing director of the beer division, adding the company was also looking to invest in India.

Panmure Gordon analyst Douglas Jack said the results were broadly in line with his expectations, and kept a “buy” rating on the stock and a target price of 840 pence.

“With the strongest balance sheet within its peer group, the company is well positioned to make further acquisitions or buy back equity,” Jack said in a note.

Fuller did not deny such speculation on Friday, with Emeny saying the firm will maintain an acquisition programme that is “dependent on quality pubs being available at suitable prices.”

(Additional reporting by Marc Jones, Editing by Erica Billingham)

Objection Against Outdoor Smoking in Discovery Bay Restaurants

The following letter was sent in reply to concerns by Clear The Air over smoking in the outdoor seating areas of restaurants in Discovery Bay:

12 November, 2007
Dear Mr. James Middleton,
Objection against Smoking in the Outside Seating Accommodation of Restaurants at Water Margin Complex, Discovery Bay
Thank you for your emails dated 18.8.2007, 19.8.2007, 12.9.2007, 17.10.2007 and 24.10.2007 concerning the captioned.
2.         Both applicants and licensees of the food premises in the Water Margin Complex have intention to apply for Outside Seating Accommodation at the location.  Some applications have been received and under process by our Licensing Section.  Your views have been conveyed to the Licensing Section for information.
3.         Our staff will take out appropriate enforcement action should any contravention of laws witness on the spot.
4.         Your concern on smoking at the captioned location has also been conveyed to the Tobacco Control Office and Environmental Protection Department for parallel action.
5.         For enquiries, please feel free to contact the undersigned or our Health Inspector, Mr. LEE Yuk-chun, at 2852 3142.
Yours faithfully,
(WONG So-fan)
for Director of Food and Environmental Hygiene

Water Margin OSA Air Quality

The following letter was sent to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department over concerns of contamination due to smoking in the outdoor areas of restaurants in Discovery Bay’s Water Margin complex. 

Dear Sir

We are informed the Water Margin OSA is continuing to be used daily by the restaurants since our initial complaint.

Neither have we received any update from you as promised in the letter.

We reiterate our objection under OSA guidelines for licences to be granted for OSA to these existing premises if smoking is allowed under our previously stated reasons copied below.

As regards an application for OSA – Outside Seating Accommodation guidelines :

“The operation of OSA should not create any environmental nuisance (such as water pollution, air quality nuisanceand noise nuisance).”

It is quite clear that allowing smoking in partially enclosed and covered outdoor areas like this constitutes an environmental nuisance as regards air quality nuisance to workers , passers by using the walkway who are frequently also children and non smoking patrons alike.

Accordingly Clear the Air objects to any current use of the OSA whilst smoking is permitted by the licensees in the OSA area and to any subsequent application by them to include the OSA in their licences under these legal ‘air quality nuisance’ grounds.

In addition, food is carried through and deposited in the OSA to be served to customers :
4. Adequate measures should be taken to protect food from risk of contamination during conveyance to the OSA.

The micron sized particles of cancerous environmental cigarette smoke will pass through any type of food service cover and will also contaminate the food when placed on the tables of the OSA for consumption. None of these premises other than McSoreleys has a smoking deferral approval in place.

7. The licensee should comply with the provisions of the laws of Hong Kong

The podium has numerous parasols which constitute a cover or roof under Cap 371. As such under Hong Kong laws the employers have a legal duty to protect their workers from unsafe work environments; the lethal dangers of passive cigarette smoke are documented and proven beyond contest, even acknowledged on the major tobacco company websites. ” An employer who fails to maintain the workplace in a condition that is, so far as reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health – intentionally, knowingly or recklessly – commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of $200,000 and to imprisonment for 6 months.”   Chapter: 509 Title: OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ORDINANCE Gazette Number: L.N. 230 of 1998 Section: 6 Heading: Employers to ensure safety and health of employees Version Date: 01/06/1998

Allowing smoking in  partially covered area workplaces is definitely not a condition that is ‘safe and without risks to health.’

kind regards
James Middleton
Clear the Air

Cafe Duvet Smoking Experience

This letter was sent to Lewis Ho of Hong Kong Resorts International Ltd in regards to smoking concerns at Cafe Duvet in Discovery Bay’s Water Margin complex by one of Clear The Air’s members, Nigel Bruce. 

Dear Mr. Ho,

I was informed by a neighbour that the new Cafe Duvet has opened on the raised podium in the Plaza.

He told me he had to leave shortly after sitting down, as the cafe was full of people smoking. I was not surprised, as this was sadly to be expected, given your response to my earlier email (see below).

You said in that email: “we, as the landlord, are not entitled during the tenancy period to unilaterally impose extra conditions on the own use of the leased premises by the tenants”. But this is a new lease, and surely Management now had the opportunity to attempt to carry out a policy to protect residents’ health?

 I find it disappointing in the extreme that you are again failing to take an opportunity to pursue such a policy.

Also, when you say: “Having said that, however, we would encourage the individual restaurants to allocate non-smoking areas within their leased premises on a voluntary basis so that both the smoking and non-smoking population can enjoy the superb Water Margin outdoor experience”, does this mean that you have not actually entered into any discussions with your tenant restaurants about their smoking policies?


Nigel Bruce