SCMP Thursday, August 30, 2001
Pubs may escape ban on smoking
MARY ANN BENITEZ
Bars and karaoke lounges are likely to be spared from smoking bans expected to be in place by next year, the Secretary for Health and Welfare indicated yesterday.
However, Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong said initial results of public consultation showed general support for the Government's proposal to ban smoking at all restaurants, schools and work places.
Initial legislation amending the Smoking Ordinance is expected next year.
"There's less support for banning smoking at this stage in karaoke centres and bars. I think this is to be expected," Dr Yeoh said.
The consultation exercise, running from June 21 to September 15, has drawn 10,500 responses.
Speaking after visiting the Department of Health's new Tobacco Control Office in Ho Man Tin Plaza, Dr Yeoh said: "Our policy has been to gradually implement these bans in a progressive nature. We have got to wait for the community's acceptance and the readiness of the different industries and sectors."
Dr Yeoh stressed that economic difficulties faced by the food and entertainment industry would be considered.
"We hope there is general support and we are able to resolve some of the differences," he said.
Assistant Director of Health (Special Health Service) Dr Cindy Lai Kit-lim said 80 per cent of restaurant managers visited by Tobacco Control Officers had said they had no problems enforcing the existing legislation.
Dr Yeoh chatted with lunch-time customers and staff at the Banyan Seafood Restaurant in the Ho Man Tin Plaza.
Restaurant manager Dickson Yuen said his staff had not encountered difficulties in persuading patrons to smoke at designated areas.
The proposed amendments to the Smoking Ordinance suggest extending the ban to all restaurants, bars and karaoke centres, kindergartens, schools, universities and indoor work places.