Hong Kong’s Secretary for Health, Lo Chung-mau, says that staring at smokers who light up in public places in disapproval will help them kick their smoking habit.

Speaking at a meeting of the Legislative Council’s health service panel on Friday, Lo said that deterring smokers from lighting up in public should be a collective effort on the part of the government and society at large.

“I’d like to emphasise that the whole society can create a non-smoking culture. If someone smokes or takes out a cigarette in a public venue, everyone should stare at that person,” said Lo.

Lo added that not smoking in public should be as ingrained in Hongkongers as the practice of standing in line for a bus.

“Like queueing up at the bus station, for example. No one would regulate the behaviour [and] enforce proper queues by calling the police. So we need to have a culture and society [in which] people are willing to comply with the law,” explained Lo.

The Secretary said that the government aims to reduce the overall smoking prevalance rate in Hong Kong to 7.8% in 2025. He added that it is particularly worrying that 7% of secondary students have already tried smoking.

In Hong Kong, smoking is prohibited in places such as restaurants, public transportation, indoor workplaces, and public indoor spaces under the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Cap. 371). Anyone found in violation of the ordinance must pay a fine of HK$1,500.

The government is considering newer strategies to discourage people from smoking, such as increasing the tax on tobacco to 75% of the package price or banning people born after a certain year from buying cigarettes.

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Header image credits: Sezeryadigar via Canva

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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