HK Council on Smoking and Health urges ban on “smoking while walking” and designated smoking areas

Insert picture: Henry Tong

10th June 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Hong Kong government has unveiled its latest smoking control policies, which include banning smoking while queuing and expanding no-smoking zones, as well as increasing fines for violations of the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance. However, the act of “smoking while walking” has not been addressed in the new regulations. Henry Tong Sau-chai, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, expressed his support for the ban on smoking while queuing, considering it a good starting point. He urged authorities to move swiftly in prohibiting the act of “smoking while walking” and suggested that education, enforcement, and legislation be employed to achieve the goal of a smoke-free city.

Tong also emphasised the need to ban flavoured tobacco products, as they tend to attract young people and women. Currently, flavoured tobacco products, including shisha, are legally allowed in designated smoking areas. When considering legislation to ban flavoured tobacco, Tong believes it is crucial to clearly specify that all flavoured tobacco products, regardless of the added flavours, should be prohibited.

Tsui Yuen, a member of the Long-term Tobacco Policy Concern Group, supported the feasibility of short-term smoking control measures but stressed the importance of effective enforcement. He suggested that authorities strengthen enforcement against illicit tobacco advertisements on social media platforms. Tsui Yuen also agreed with designating country parks and pedestrian areas as smoke-free zones, citing examples from Japan and Europe where smoking areas or smoking rooms have been established to reduce issues related to secondhand smoke and littered cigarette butts.