PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 January, 2009, 12:00am

Should the smoking ban be delayed?

In my view it should not, and this seems to be the view of the majority of correspondents. But we should be looking well beyond July this year.

The current trend will continue: smokers will find fewer and fewer places where they can smoke.

In time, smoking will be banned not only in all public places, but also in private homes; whether smokers like it or not it will happen, eventually.

Some radical thinking has to be done now in order to plan for that future; and the plan must accommodate two facts: first, there are a substantial number of smokers who will never give up; and second, many young people will start to smoke unless they are prevented from doing so.

First, smokers must have somewhere to smoke legitimately; refusal to accept this simple fact is unrealistic.

Smoking rooms in some bars have been suggested by some and rejected by the hardliners.

I have experienced a few smoking rooms at airports (from the outside), some that are unpleasant to be near, others that appear to work reasonably well.

If the demand is there they will be developed to meet the needs of those inside and those who prefer to stay outside.

Second, and more radically, the only way to stop young people from starting to smoke is to make it illegal. Nothing else will work.

Let Hong Kong lead the world by setting a date, maybe the last day of this year, after which it will be illegal to start smoking.

It will be very difficult and probably futile to attempt to prosecute anyone who will be over 18 years of age at the time the legislation comes into force, but very simple to prosecute those under that age at the time.

While many will claim that such a law is discriminatory, others might welcome the legislation as a good reason to resist pressure from their peers.

Peter Robertson, Sai Kung

As a non-smoker, I do not think the smoking ban should be delayed.

As everyone knows, smoking harms our health, and in this regard it affects smokers and non-smokers.

Smokers talk about their rights being infringed.

But what about the right of non-smokers not to be exposed to second-hand smoke?

I do not see smoking rooms as a solution to the problem, as some of the smoke is bound to escape. And what about the health of people who use them and are in smoke-filled rooms.

Some people argue that it is up to individuals whether or not they wish to work or eat in a restaurant that allows smoking.

However, some people may have no choice but to work in a restaurant or bar where people smoke, especially during the present economic downturn.

Employees exposed to this kind of environment will put up with it if the alternative is not working and therefore receiving no income.

Laws exist to protect the public. The government should implement the full smoking ban and then it is up to smokers to light up in the privacy of their own homes.

Emily Lau Lai-fan, Ngau Tau Kok

Should more hawker licences be issued?

A cycling trip from Sha Tin to Tai Po, with its good views, is a very relaxing experience. And at the end of it, you can enjoy an ice-cold treat thanks to a mobile ice-cream hawker.

It is a most enjoyable end to a trip.

I am worried that government intervention might disrupt the activities of these mobile ice-cream sellers.

They are an integral part of the street life of Hong Kong, and are welcomed by local residents and by tourists.

The government has been killing off the street food stalls.

The experience of eating on the street at small compact tables and chairs is unique. A small indoor kiosk is not an adequate replacement.

Similarly, there is no substitute for being at some location where there are no convenience stores and being able to enjoy an ice cream thanks to these ice-cream vendors. These ice-cream sellers often have no special training that would enable them to do other jobs.

Why should the government discourage them from being able to support themselves if they show the ability and willingness to do that.

If more hawker licences are issued, this will allow a greater number of people to rely on their own resources rather than on welfare payments, and this will reduce the social burden.

Let the problem be solved by the private sector.

This is the most efficient solution.

The government just has to show some flexibility and market forces will do the rest.

Claudia Yip, Lok Fu

How can teenagers' internet ethics be improved?

When it comes to internet ethics, it is not just about educating teenagers about the laws in cyberspace or talking to them about their perception of sex. It is about how they conduct themselves online when they do not have to use their real identity.

In the real world, we are judged by our actions. The consequences are often immediate and people feel the repercussions.

In cyberspace, people harbour the delusion that they can get away with their actions.

This can mean that sometimes young people who suppress unacceptable behaviour in society show no qualms, online, about using foul language, making shameless remarks, being blatantly dishonest and even intimidating other people - just look at some of the forums in Chinese.

Frankly, there are some jaw-dropping exchanges.

We have to think about why our education system produces young people who act in this way.

Virginia Yue, Tsuen Wan

Many teenagers are breaking the law when they use the internet.

They download songs and pictures, and have no knowledge of copyright law.

The music industry, for example, suffers as a result of this, and some artists are put off producing more work because they are afraid it will be downloaded illegally.

I think, in this regard, education is very important. Many teenagers do not understand the law relating to uploading original material.

Therefore, there should be more talks in schools so that students learn about internet ethics.

We need to ensure that musicians and other creative people are allowed to continue to entertain Hong Kong people.

Winnie Fong, Lam Tin

There is a growing trend among adolescents to ignore internet law. Many of them continue to download pornographic material.

I think this is due to a lack of ethics education, and the problem is alarming.

We can make young people more aware of internet ethics through education. Advertising on television and with posters is an effective way to do this.

Schools can hold talks on this subject to raise students' awareness of the law as it relates to use of the internet. Parents also have an important role to play. They need to be open-minded with their children when dealing with sexual matters so that young people develop a mature view and do not resort to downloading pornography.

Carman Chan, Kwun Tong

I think young people are confused about the law on use of the internet. Adults probably have a clearer idea of what is allowed and what is forbidden.

Some people argue that there needs to be an overhaul of cyber-legislation and that there must be better enforcement of such laws.

Also, youngsters must be made aware of these laws and this will lead to fewer young people offending.

However, enforcing the law does not address the problem of internet morality, or lack of it. We can make people abide by the law, but that does not mean their attitudes or mindsets have changed. They may continue to download material that is not acceptable, even though it is legal, and to exchange pornographic material with each other.

What teenagers need is proper moral education.

Only through education can they learn to appreciate the importance of internet ethics.

Lau Kwok-piu, Sau Mau Ping