BOSSES who smoke may be preventing companies in Hong Kong from adopting a non-smoking policy while junior staff suffer in silence, anti-smoking activist Dr Carol Betson said yesterday. Dr Betson, chairman of People Acting for a Smokeless Society (PASS), said she was particularly concerned about non-smoking workers in the territory's smaller offices. Speaking at the launch of PASS's A Guide to Creating a Non-Smoking Workplace , Dr Betson claimed female staff, especially those who were pregnant, were probably suffering the most. She added: 'More men smoke than women and because the culture here is non-confrontational I think there must be many offices where non-smoking female staff don't feel they can ask their male bosses or colleagues to stop.' But Dr Rose Ong, chairman of PASS's Smoke Free Workplace Committee, said employees could not be expected to tackle the problem of smoke-filled, unhealthy offices alone. 'A non-smoking policy must be introduced at the top and enforced by the management to empower the rest of the workforce,' Dr Ong said. Patrick Maule, personnel director of the Mass Transit Railway Corp which introduced a non-smoking policy at its Kowloon Bay headquarters earlier this year, said one of the biggest problems may be that the decision-makers are the smokers. Although there is no data for Hong Kong, Dr Betson said experience worldwide showed that smokers were ill more often, less productive and caused more accidents than non-smokers. Research in the United States revealed nearly 20 per cent of all absences from work were due to smoke-related illnesses. The new guide to creating a non-smoking workplace includes information on smoking and health, help in developing a policy, as well as hints on monitoring. and follow-up.