Smoking in Hong Kong
Tobacco smoking in Hong Kong has declined in recent decades, with 10.5 per cent of Hong Kongers now smoking on a daily basis. It is the policy of the Hong Kong government to discourage smoking. Smoking is banned in most public places and tobacco advertising is prohibited.
The Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance came into effect in 1982.
The overall daily smoking rate in Hong Kong was 10.5 per cent in 2015. This has declined from 23.3 per cent in the early 1980s. Hong Kong has the world's longest lifespan, and experts have attributed this to the low smoking rate.
In 2015 there were 641,300 daily smokers (of which 538,300 or 83.9 per cent were male and 103,000 or 16.1 per cent female). Approximately 19 per cent of Hong Kong males smoke whereas in China 53 per cent of males smoke.
Policy and legislation
It is the policy of the Hong Kong government to discourage smoking and to reduce the impact of second-hand smoke on the general public. The Department of Health is generally responsible for enforcing government policies regarding smoking.
Smoking in public 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 nightclub 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 light of use of e-cigarettes among primary and secondary school students, the government is considering prohibiting the import and sale of e-cigarettes. It says there are health concerns associated with e-cigarettes, and that the devices may make smoking mainstream again, particularly among Hong Kong youth.
Smoking (or carrying a lighted cigarette) is banned in common areas of public housing estates of the Housing Authority. Smoking offenders are liable to receive five points under the housing provider's Marking Scheme, a demerit point system used to enforce housing estate rules.
- "Latest cigarette smoking prevalence rate announced (with photo)". Information Services Department. 4 February 2016.
- Lee, Danny; Cheah, Selina (26 July 2016). "Hong Kong women and men enjoy world's longest life expectancy due to low smoking rates, health experts claim". South China Morning Post.
- "China and the Toll of Smoking". The New York Times. 17 April 2014.
- "Department of Health's efforts in smoking control" (PDF). Audit Commission. 3 April 2018.
- Lo, Arthur (7 July 2015). "Proposed e-cigarette ban 'unscientific and unethical', expert says". Hong Kong Free Press.
- "Stubbing out Asia's smoking flights". South China Morning Post. 11 August 1993. p. 18.
- "Marking Scheme for Estate Management Enforcement". Hong Kong Housing Authority. Retrieved 25 April 2018.