Mon, Jan 01, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Draconian anti-smoking law goes into effect in HK

AP , HONG KONG

Hong Kong will become a mostly smoke-free city today, as a ban on lighting up inside restaurants, workplaces, schools, karaoke lounges and public areas came into force. Even smoking at outdoor locations such as beaches, pools, museums and most areas of public parks will be forbidden.

Australian tourist Robert Hyde, a smoker for over 10 years, said the ban wouldn't stop him from returning to Hong Kong.

"If I need to smoke, then I'll smoke outside the restaurant and then go back to enjoy my meal. It's easy," Hyde said.

But maverick lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung (梁國雄) opposed the new law, saying a complete ban is unnecessary. He plans to demonstrate against the prohibition in the next few months.

Leung, nicknamed Long Hair, also said there are filtration and ventilation systems that are effective in keeping air clean inside.

"It's ridiculous that the government is not allowing restaurateurs to use those enhancement facilities to maintain a smoking area in their restaurants," he said.

Anyone caught breaking the new law will be subject to a maximum fine of HK$5,000 (US$644).

The ban does not yet include nightclubs, bars and bathhouses.

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