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Hong Kong expects to extend smoking ban by Aug 2006
AlertNet news, Reuters (26 Feb 2005)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's government expects to extend a ban on smoking to bars, restaurants and offices in August next year at the earliest, joining a growing list of cities worldwide outlawing lighting up in crowded places.

The administration first proposed the wider ban in 2001 to protect people from second-hand smoke, but met fierce resistance from businesses, which are highly influential in politics. Last October, the government decided to introduce the smoke-ban bill.

"We hope to present the bill to the Legislative Council in May, and it will take at least another 15 months to take effect as law," a government spokeswoman told Reuters on Saturday, quoting Permanent Secretary for Health, Carrie Yau.

The bill will expand non-smoking areas to all indoor restaurants, bars, karaoke lounges and outdoor campuses and tightens controls over the sale and promotion of tobacco.

Smoking has been banned in shopping centres, cinemas, supermarkets and banks since 1998, and big restaurants are already required to have designated no-smoking zones.

According to the World Health Organisation, 16 people die in Hong Kong each day from tobacco-related illnesses. About 15 percent of the population of seven million smokes.

In March last year, Ireland became the first country in Europe to outlaw smoking in pubs, bars and restaurants. Similar bans are in force in several U.S. cities, including New York.

Hong Kong is losing HK$5.3 billion (US$679 million) a year to smoking via lost productivity and health care costs, medical experts have said.


Reuters (26 Feb 2005 04:29:21 GMT)

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