Hong Kong - total smoking ban in effect - Wednesday, July 1, 2009..

June 30, 2009 - A spokesman for the Hong Kong Department of Health (DH) said on June 29th that a smoking ban at six types of listed establishments will take effect on July 1, 2009 in accordance with the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Cap 371). These establishments are bars, clubs, night-clubs, bathhouses, massage establishments and mahjong-tin kau premises.

NO Matter How Much People Complain the Hong Kong's government will put the ban in force. Hong Kong workers fume over smoking ban, Agence France Presse (AFP), 6/30/2009.

The smoking ban has already been implemented in all indoor areas of workplaces, public places, restaurants, bars for all ages, karaoke lounges since January 1, 2007.

Studies have shown that second hand smoke affects the health of staff and customers at indoor public areas. “The arrangement can further protect the public from exposure to second hand smoke,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman also called for the co-operation of venue management in providing a smoke-free environment for their staff and customers. The spokesman said venue managers of designated no-smoking areas were empowered to implement the smoking ban in the no-smoking areas under their management.

“Venue managers are authorized to require any smoker to stop smoking in the no-smoking areas. They can request those refuse to produce proof of identity and address for follow up; or ask them to leave the no-smoking area,” he said.

Members of the public should be considerate and cooperate with venue managers for the smooth implementation of the legislative requirements, he said.

Up to May 31 this year, DH's Tobacco Control Office (TCO) had issued some 13,800 summonses to people smoking in no smoking areas. Anyone who committed a smoking offence is subject to a maximum penalty of $5,000.

TCO has launched a series of publicity and education activities to promote smoke-free environment in establishments where smoking is being banned. A number of workshops have been organized to facilitate them to understand the legislative requirements as well as to implement smoke-free measures.

Staff wishing to quit smoking are also provided with smoking cessation seminars.

Smoke free ambassadors of TCO have been visiting the establishments to promulgate smoke-free message and disseminate leaflets, posters, stickers and implementation guidelines. “We will continue to liaise with the operators of these establishments and to ensure the legislative requirements would be observed by the parties concerned” the spokesman said.

References: Extension of smoking ban to six types of listed establishments in Hong Kong, Web Newswire, 6/29/2009; Hong Kong extends smoke ban to more recreational venues, People's Daily Online, 6/30/2009; Smokers Snuff Out in Hong Kong Bars as Ban Begins (Update1) by Sanchez Wang and Nicholas Olczak, Bloomberg.news, 6/30/2009.

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