The advertising industry may be displeased with the decision to ban cigarette hoardings from the streets of Hong Kong, but the medical profession will be delighted. Statistics on nicotine-related illness are too well-known to need repeating, but they seldom make an impact on the people they are meant to impress. Teenagers, in general, are not the least concerned about the maladies they are likely to suffer when they reach their 40s and 50s. It requires a massive leap of the imagination for 17-year-olds to accept what their health may be like when they reach such an age. The main aim of adolescents is to project a cool, sophisticated image. The tobacco industry devotes much effort to suggesting that smoking is the surest way to acquire such cool. Tobacco companies are among the most aggressive of advertisers. They spend billions of dollars every year to promote their products because advertising is their most potent sales tool - and because it helps offset the message that health organisations battle to spread. For a brief period, schools succeeded in persuading pupils that there was nothing admirable or trendy about smoking. The latest research indicates that this phase has passed, and that smokers are getting younger. This would suggest that the image created by advertising hoardings is stronger than the words of warning at their foot. When these persuasive icons disappear from billboards, and tobacco logos are no longer synonymous with sporting events, some of the glamour may go from the cigarette. For non-smokers, the amendment for smoke-free zones in restaurants will be heartily welcomed. People are fully entitled to smoke if they choose to do so, but they should not expect others to inhale their fumes.