Public smoking bans are flouted with abandon in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 June, 2018, 9:39am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 June, 2018, 9:39am

I refer to Edmond Pang’s letter on smokers of all kinds being a health hazard to others (“There’s a reason Hong Kong has not said yes to e-cigarettes yet”, June 9).

Smoking in public is a serious issue, and the problem is getting worse in Hong Kong. I agree that there are many behaviour patterns that can be deemed self-indulgent and, usually, the ill-effects of such behaviour are restricted to that individual alone.

However, smoking is different, as second-hand tobacco smoke poses grave health risks for non-smokers.

There have been instances of pressure from the wholesale and retail sectors, opposing moves like the one last year to have bigger and more forceful warnings on cigarette packs.

Hong Kong vendors warn of protests if larger warnings are printed on cigarette packs

But it may be time for a rethink, as residents and visitors alike are seen flouting many smoking bans in Hong Kong. People now seem to think it is all right to light up anywhere and everywhere – even in the so-called statutory no-smoking areas. I have even seen people, mostly tourists, smoking within controlled areas of the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station and inside shopping malls.

There needs to be a stronger stance taken on smoking in public. Just imposing higher tobacco taxes has not really had an impact as far as smoking on the streets, while ignoring its effects on fellow pedestrians, goes. Anti-smoking regulations seem to be sorely lacking in enforcement.

Gauri Venkitaraman, Lam Tin