Ruby Tuesday restaurant is accused of putting profits ahead of people's health Doctors are calling for a boycott of Ruby Tuesday restaurants after revelations the US chain insists diners who want happy hour prices must sit in the smoking section. Staff at the restaurants in Kowloon Bay, Taikoo Shing and Sha Tin and a customer service representative all confirmed yesterday that 'company policy' dictated customers wanting half-price drinks and cheap food must sit in the smoking area. But Ruby Tuesday's Hong Kong boss, Mark Pitman, denied such a policy was in place and said diners and drinkers were free to sit where they wanted and still enjoy happy hour prices from 4pm to 7pm on weekdays. 'Absolutely not. There has been a misunderstanding here, even if that is what our staff told you,' he said. Discovery Bay resident Roz Allardice complained she was told by a waiter and manager at the Sha Tin restaurant that she would have to move to the smoking section to eat and drink at the cheaper prices. The chairman of the Council of Smoking and Health, Homer Tso Wei-kwok, called for customers to avoid the restaurant until the 'absurd' policy was removed. 'They are going backwards by promoting smoking when all the evidence shows that it causes cancer,' Dr Tso said. 'Making people sit in a smoking area for the happy hour is totally against the way the whole world is moving. People who don't smoke are also being punished for cheaper prices, as are the staff who work in the place.' Dr Tso said the policy discriminated against the 85 per cent of the adult population who were non-smokers. The Tobacco Control Office confirmed yesterday that they would investigate the restaurant's policy. A spokesman said they 'encouraged restaurant operators to protect their customers from second-hand smoking'. The chairman of the Hong Kong Medical Association's health education committee, Alvin Chan Yee-shing, accused the chain of encouraging young people to take up smoking. Dr Chan said Ruby Tuesday was particularly popular with youngsters, many of whom would be attracted to the cheap happy hour prices. 'It's like the snake tempting Eve with the apple, luring these youngsters in and then all around them are people smoking,' he said. 'They are putting profits ahead of people's health.' Teacher Ernstine Arnold visits the Taikoo Shing Ruby Tuesday in City Plaza up to three times a week for the 'great food and wonderful service'. But the non-smoker said the policy for happy hour was unfair. 'It's fine by me for restaurants to have a smoking area, but this should not discriminate against non-smokers,' she said.