Hong Kong - public smoking ban - smoking rooms??

December 27, 2008 - The Hong Kong (population 6.9 million) smoking ban in public places came into effect on January 1, 2007. The ban covers most public areas, including restaurants, offices and karaoke lounges. It also extends to outside areas with swimming pools, beaches and the larger parts of public parks now designated as smoke-free. Anyone caught lighting up in a banned zone faces a maximum fine of HK$5000 (£326, USD645).

The ban does not yet include nightclubs, bars open to those aged 18 or above, mahjong parlors, bathhouses and massage establishments, such venues have until July 1, 2009, to implement the law. With a little more than six months before the smoking ban is to be enforced the government is entering the final phase of a study of smoking rooms that may offer bar owners a way around the curbs. A number of Asian and European countries have placed restrictions on smoking but still permit smoking rooms to operate.

Officials are examining a 40,000-US-dollar smoking room partly funded by British American Tobacco at a Hong Kong bar to see if exemptions should be granted to bars with hi-tech facilities. The tobacco company claims the room removes and recycles smoke fumes safely and argues that it could save bars with high percentages of smoking customers from going bust.

However, the city's leading anti-smoking campaigner Anthony Hedley told Monday's (12/22/2008) South China Morning Post that allowing smoking rooms would be 'nothing short of a scandal.' The Hong Kong government will make recommendations to legislators on whether or not to allow the smoking rooms in a report early in 2009,

Reference: Hong Kong smoking ban startscarterersearch.com, 1/2/2007; Smoke-free Hong Kong may allow hi-tech smoking rooms in bars, monstersandcritics.com, 12/22/2008.