PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 January, 2007, 12:00am

Q What do you think of the smoking ban?

The smoking ban in restaurants and other indoor places is now in force, and finally the air in restaurants is not more polluted than on the streets. Now it's time for the next step in making the restaurants a real pleasure to visit.

It is no more than about 20 degrees Celsius outside. Still, I have to bring extra warm clothes when going to a restaurant. How come it is still colder inside restaurants, than on the streets? Can someone please shut down those air cons.

Wouter van Marle, Hung Hom

I appreciate the no-smoking policy. The smoking ban not only allows us to breathe 'fresh' air in restaurants and other places, but also makes sustainable development possible.

To become a sustainable city, the health of citizens must be taken into account. This policy encourages people to quit the bad habit. It will help reduce the medical expenses for curing patients of diseases caused by smoking.

The implementation of the policy is a wise decision.

Ho Shuk Wa, Sham Shui Po

It is another big step in the right direction, but a pity that the deadline for deferral applications was not imposed for December 31 last year as well. Instead, the Tobacco Control Office will have to continue to process applications from both existing and new establishments for another two years, a huge waste of time, effort and taxpayers' money.

Guy Shirra, Sai Kung

Q Is it fair to charge mainlanders more for maternity services?

Absolutely, yes. To tackle the increasing demand for midwives and beds, the most direct way is to increase the fees, especially for mainland expectant mothers. But, no matter how high the charges are, the pregnant mainlanders will not pay the fees. Therefore, this way is direct, but not effective.

Apart from imposing the surcharges, authorities can take legal action against them, to send them back to the mainland. One of the reasons they come to Hong Kong to give birth is to escape the one-child policy in the mainland. Each country has its own policies; mainlanders should not leave their home towns to break the laws. Babies born in Hong Kong should not have the right of abode even if one of their parents is a Hong Kong citizen.

Angela Chan Hin Tsz,

Ngau Chi Wan

Q What can be done to curb drug abuse by young people across the border?

I find this a rather absurd question. It looks like these young people have got it all figured out. Just like their savvy Hong Kong parents, it's all about economics. Over the border, it is cheaper and you are less likely to get caught - just like travelling to Shenzhen for haircuts, DVDs, and the 'don't tell the wife' massage.

They will only move on somewhere else. It also seems that they have the freedom and money to do so. I don't want to sound old-fashioned, but does this not have at least something to do with parenting?

Perhaps if we lived in a city where parents figured out on their own that they should spend time with their children, rather than being informed of it in television community messages, then this wouldn't be such a problem.

Walter Bauman, Happy Valley

Q How can we promote responsible pet ownership?

I read about the cruel trade of cute puppies - that makes me feel sad.

I think that a dog doesn't have to be a pedigree or a cute puppy to be a man's best friend. I think if you want a puppy, you should get it from a dog rescue group.

I have a dog from Hong Kong Dog Rescue and she hasn't a pedigree. She might even have a million mixes, but she's still a wonderful companion and friend. We think she's a great dog.

Richard Ding, aged 9,

Happy Valley

Hong Kong has a long way to go before reaching anywhere near the standards of other international cities.

At present, the government does not have any restriction on the numbers of animals coming in. In Noah's Ark, animals came in two by two, here they can arrive in their thousands each year. These animals come to an already overpopulated, overbred animal market. Even if you are a pedigree dog in this town, this doesn't secure you a responsible owner with the guarantee of never being dumped on the street.

The dog overload has reached its peak with the SPCA reporting for the first time in history a total full house.

Hong Kong Dog Rescue is also making a plea to the public that, if you ever thought about giving a dog a good home, now would be the time.

The government needs to get right down to the source of this problem and amend laws and change polices.

I was recently in Canada and visited five pet shops during my stay, none of which sold a cat or a dog in a cage.

When I asked where I could buy a dog, the assistant gave me a list of dog shelters in the area. She told me if I wanted to buy a pedigree, I would need to buy a pet magazine and contact a registered breeder.

She did point out that mongrel dogs can make better pets than pedigrees, as many pet insurance policies have a list of all the breeds they will not insure, making the mongrel dog an insurance-friendly breed.

Out of interest, I called a breeder. She explained if I was interested in buying one of her dogs, she would interview me. Then I'd need to sign legal paperwork allowing her to visit the property where the dog would be living plus further visits from her. If I was not prepared to sign, she wasn't interested in selling one of her dogs to me.

So, Hong Kong government, take note and look at how other countries are handling the problem. Increasing numbers of stray animals and responsible animal ownership is happening the world over, but what sets a country apart from the rest is how the issues are handled.

Let's be honest, the Hong Kong government is not handling this problem. Do they even know it exists?

Susan Wong, Quarry Bay