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Hong Kong Department of Health committed to enforcing smoking ban

The Hong Kong Tobacco Control Office (TCO) of the Department of Health (DH) has made great efforts to implement and enforce tobacco control legislation, particularly the smoking ban in statutory no-smoking areas, said a spokesperson for the DH.

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According to the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Cap 371), no person shall smoke or carry a lighted cigarette, cigar or pipe in statutory no-smoking areas.

In reviewing the enforcement actions in 2013, the spokesperson said, “The number of complaints about smoking illegally was slightly reduced from 18 291 in 2012 to 18 097 in 2013. Tobacco Control Inspectors (TCIs) conducted more inspections in 2013 and around 27 461 inspections, about a 5 per cent increase compared with 2012, were conducted. A total of 8 562 fixed penalty notices and summonses were issued to smoking offenders, which was about a 4 per cent increase compared to 2012”. TCIs will continue to conduct inspections in statutory no-smoking areas to enhance compliance with the smoking ban.

The spokesperson said, “The TCO will follow up every complaint and arrange unannounced inspections accordingly, including inspections at night. In the past two weeks (from February 16 to March 1), TCIs carried out 23 night operations and inspected over 250 venues in which smoking was more rampant at nighttime. A total of 109 fixed penalty notices and summonses were issued during night operation in the past two weeks.”

The spokesperson urged members of the public to observe the smoking ban requirements and co-operate with law enforcement officers. According to the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Cap 371), no person shall smoke or carry a lighted cigarette, cigar or pipe in statutory no-smoking areas. Smoking of shisha or e-cigarettes in a no-smoking area is also an offence. Offenders will be liable to a fixed penalty of $1,500.

“Smoking is hazardous to health. We encourage smokers to quit smoking. The DH has collaborated with various organisations, including the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, Pok Oi Hospital, the University of Hong Kong, Lok Sin Tong and United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service, to provide free smoking cessation services in the community. A mobile phone-based smoking cessation tool, the “Quit Smoking App”, was also launched in 2011 to assist smokers to quit. For enquiries or appointments, the public can call the Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline of the DH on 1833 183,” the spokesman added.

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