Bus drivers want signs for no-smoking zones
Bus drivers have urged the government to clearly define no-smoking areas when the smoking ban is extended to all outdoor bus terminuses later this year.
New World First Bus Company Staff Union chairman Chung Chung-fai said bus drivers would have to move to nearby pedestrian areas to smoke, but the boundaries of outdoor transport interchanges were not as clearly defined as covered areas.
'The government should state clearly - such as with banners - where exactly the no-smoking areas are. Otherwise it may be easy for us to break the law,' Chung said.
About 60 per cent to 70 per cent of bus drivers are smokers, Chung said.
The smoking ban will be extended to 128 outdoor transport interchanges in the city by December, including the Star Ferry Pier terminus in Tsim Sha Tsui and the Wan Chai Pier terminus.
But five terminuses will be exempt - those at the Central Ferry Piers, the airport, Ocean Park, Nam Cheong Station and Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Undersecretary for Food and Health Professor Gabriel Leung said these terminuses would undergo major renovation later this year.
'The layout and bus routes may change after the renovation. It will be meaningless if we assign certain areas to be non-smoking now,' he told the Legislative Council health panel yesterday.
Lawmakers also expressed concern over the boundary issue during the panel meeting.
Fred Li Wah-ming of the Democratic Party said as outdoor terminals had no obvious boundary, tobacco control officials might have difficulties prosecuting.
Leung said the government would make sure that the signs would be 'clear and everywhere'.
Kwai Tsing district councillor Lam Siu-fai said there were a number of bus terminuses in the district that had 'dubious boundaries'.
'Some terminuses do not have fences,' he said. 'When prosecuted, smokers can say they just unknowingly stepped into the area.'
Sha Tin district councillor Chan Kwok-tim agreed with Lam and urged the government to recruit more tobacco control inspectors, otherwise the smoking ban would just 'remain on paper'.
'I always receive complaints from residents that many people are still smoking in restaurants, but it has been more than three years since the indoor smoking ban,' Chan said.
Breaches of no-smoking rules carry a fixed fine of HK$1,500
The number of smoking fines issued from September to December 2009: 1,500