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Stare at Smokers to Stop Them, Hong Kong Health Chief Urges Public

People in Hong Kong should discourage smoking by staring at anyone who lights up in areas where it is banned, the city’s health secretary has suggested.

Answering questions about how to create a tobacco-free city, Lo Chung-mau also said police could not be expected to catch smokers.

Hong Kong is currently debating toughening its anti-tobacco measures.

Current rules ban smoking inside restaurants, workplaces, indoor public spaces and some outdoor public areas.

After launching a public consultation to reduce smoking in Hong Kong, Prof Lo told fellow lawmakers at a health meeting that the public had a role to play in reducing smoking and that it would be challenging for police officers to catch smokers in the act in time.

Prof Lo, who is also a medical doctor, said smoking was bad for the health of everyone and Hong Kong needed a “culture in society that people are willing to comply with the law”.

He added: “When the members of the public see people smoking in non-smoking areas, even if no law enforcement officers can show up immediately, we can stare at the smokers.”

Prof Lo told the panel that law enforcement would be improved. Breaking current smoking rules is punishable with a fine of up to HK$1,500 ($192, £147).

But he also said when police “arrive at the scene, the crime may have already stopped” and so they are unable to take action, going on to suggest smoking rules should be enforced like etiquette over waiting for a bus.

“No one will say it requires the law to compel people to queue. Our society is able to create a culture where people will comply with this rule of queuing when waiting for buses. I hope the whole of society can build a non-smoking culture.”

Among the new measures being considered by Hong Kong’s government are banning people born after a certain year from buying tobacco products and significantly increasing the tax on a packet of cigarettes.

Source : BBC