Ban this menace

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 September, 2003, 12:00am

I am all for a government ban on smoking in restaurants ('War on smokers declared in HK', Sunday Morning Post, September 7).

However difficult it will be to put the ban into practice, as a non-smoker myself, I support it.

The government has been trying to stop people from smoking in public areas for years, and outlawing it in restaurants is a good launch pad.

Just the fact a ban exists, even if there are many violations of it, means increased public awareness of the dangers. It is a forlorn hope that everyone will stop lighting up, but perhaps some potential smokers will be dissuaded from taking up the habit.

There is a long tradition of smoking in our culture and it includes social pressure to offer or accept a cigarette as a sign of friendship.

Everyone recognises that smoking is bad not only for the smoker but people nearby. Second-hand smoke causes cancer and other health problems. Just to protect non-smokers, a ban is justified.

It will be a blessing for patrons and employees who are pregnant. No longer will they have to inhale second-hand smoke in a confined area.

Although the image of scofflaws flouting the ban may seem to make it useless, abuse of the law should have a positive effect on society. For one thing, the ban will be in effect most of the time even if it is broken occasionally. And it will enable people to seek legal help under unbearable circumstances.

I expect that the ban will deal a blow to restaurateurs, reducing the number of smoking patrons. However, they should also take into account the welfare of the non-smoking population.

After all, it will not be necessary to divide a restaurant into smoking and non-smoking zones, eliminating the wait for patrons who prefer to be seated in either smoking or non-smoking. This will improve restaurant efficiency.

How many people must die of smoking-related diseases before we realise that smoking constitutes a menace? It is no use crying over spilt milk after experiencing its dire consequences.