Smoking in Hong Kong

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No smoking sign in Hong Kong

Smoking in public in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has been banned from 1 January 2007 under the government's revised Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Cap. 371), first enacted in 1982 with several amendments subsequently. The latest amendment enlarges the smoking ban to include indoor workplaces, most public places including restaurants, Internet cafés, public lavatories, beaches and most public parks. Some bars, karaoke parlors, saunas and nightclubs were exempt until 1 July 2009. Smoking bans in lifts, public transport, cinemas, concert halls, airport terminal and escalators had been phased in between 1982 and 1997. The ban in shopping centres, department stores, supermarkets, banks, game arcades has been in place since July 1998.

An anomaly to the smoking ban are on cross-border trains between Hong Kong and mainland China as they are operated jointly between MTR Corporation and the Chinese Railways, of whom the latter allows smoking in the restaurant car and in the vestibules at the end of the cars, but not in the seating area.

Any person who smokes or carries a lit tobacco product in a statutory no smoking area commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a maximum fine of HK$5,000. Unlike many other jurisdictions, Hong Kong does not place the onus on licensees of liquor licensed premises to enforce smoking bans with subsequent loss of licence for non compliance. A new law, to enter into force in September 2009, provides for fixed-penalty arrangement (HK$1,500) for smoking, on a par with that for littering. At the same time smoking will be banned in designated public transport interchanges, but the Government has yet to clarify how it will enforce this against non Hong Kong ID card holders and tourists, since the offender has 21 days after the ticket issue to pay up.

In 2015, the overall daily smoking rate in Hong Kong was 10.5%.[1] This has declined from 23.3% in the early 1980s.[1] In 2015 there were 641,300 daily smokers (of which 538,300 or 83.9% were male and 103,000 or 16.1% female).[1] Approximately 25% of Hong Kong males smoke whereas in China 63% of males smoke.[citation needed]

The government has mentioned a full-ban of tobacco import and smoking is technically possible in Hong Kong upon the release of the budget in 2009. However, as the decreasing daily smoking rate in recent years mainly due to increasing tobacco tax, the government currently has no further plans to control sales of tobacco other than by adjusting taxation.[citation needed]

In light of increasing use of e-cigarettes among primary and secondary school students, the government is considering prohibiting the import and sale of e-cigarettes.[1]

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