More bus terminals will be smoke-free zones from December 1

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 November, 2010, 12:00am

Smoking will be banned in more bus terminals after an extension to regulations comes into force on December 1.

No-smoking zones will be increased to cover 129 open-air and two covered public transport facilities, according to the Tobacco Control Office. Smoking was banned in 48 covered public transport areas from September last year.

Workers will soon install no-smoking signs and floor plans at the sites involved. A city-wide publicity campaign will warn smokers not to light up in the areas.

Dr Raymond Ho Lei-ming, who heads the Tobacco Control Office, said white lines would border the areas to avoid confusion.

Smoke-free ambassadors would be stationed at the new zones for a month to tell people in neighbourhoods about the new policy.

Ho said up to HK$7 million was spent on the extension to no-smoking areas. The list of no-smoking places and maps are available on the office's website. People can also read copies at the office's resource centre and at the Land Registry.

Some 140 people were fined HK$1,500 each for smoking in 48 covered transport facilities in September. A total of 5,800 fixed-penalty tickets were handed out in the first nine months of the year to people smoking in no-smoking areas. They paid HK$8.7 million in fines.

Of these penalties, 1,630 were handed out in game centres, 980 in shops and shopping malls, 520 in restaurants, 440 in markets, 320 in parks, and 1,900 in other places such as stairways, car parks and public toilets.

There are more than 700,000 smokers in Hong Kong - fewer than half the number 20 years ago. One in five men and one in 28 women smoke.

The Tobacco Control Office is looking at ways to encourage people to give up the habit, including having more no-smoking zones, making shop owners responsible, and raising tobacco duty. Ho said increasing the tobacco duty was the most effective method. 'We would like to see the cigarette duty raised next year.'