As of January 1st, 2007, Hong Kong declared itself smoke free. There are six types of “qualified establishments” exempt from this current regulation – nightclubs, commercial bathhouses, massage establishments, mahjong parlours, designated mahjong rooms in clubs and certain bars – which may implement the smoking ban by July 1, 2009 at the latest. Click here for the full story.

Ok, so now that everyone is clear as to the areas where smoking is prohibited, why then, do restaurants continue to allow their customers to smoke? Case in point, I was out Wednesday night for a social get together with my friend. We met at a restaurant in Central and you wouldn’t think there was a ban. We asked the manager why people were still smoking and he said he asked but the customers refused to stop smoking. These people were using anything they could as an ashtray as none were around…………..gee, I wonder why?

All along I thought it would be difficult to police this sort of regulation and Wednesday night proved the point.

For the most part, Hong Kong citizens are law abiding. As an example, on the roads you would never see a driver cross a double white line so why don’t the smokers adhere to this law as well? The maximum fine is HKD$5,000.00 (USD$644.00) but this ban is for individuals and not establishments and there is no one policing it. So I guess the no smoking ban looks good on paper only. Here’s an account of someone trying to get information regarding the new law.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: This will be a tough law to implement especially with over 840,000 smokers.


  1. Kalyn on January 12, 2007 at 13:29

    Very interesting. I hadn’t heard about this. I spent two weeks in Hong Kong a couple of years ago and was struck by how many people were smoking, so you’re right, this will be hard to implement.

  2. Brian on January 13, 2007 at 04:09

    Were you able to have your meal at that restaurant on Wednesday evening? Unfortunately, I really can’t stand the smell of smoke, especially while dining, so I would probably have had to leave asap – also with a view towards getting out before the cigarette stink could begin to cling to my clothes.

    The tobacco control officer told me that, if I wanted someone to actually enforce the law immediately, I should call the police. If the place hasn’t secured an exemption and smokers regularly light up there, calling the tobacco control hotline won’t be completely pointless, though. It sounds as though it’s likely they’d catch some folks when they sent someone around the next day to investigate, which seems to be how it’s working.

    If the restaurant was full of smokers, I honestly probably wouldn’t have had the cajones to call the police or the tobacco control hotline while I was inside, but I’d dial it immediately after leaving – and call tobacco control so that they could add it to their list of places to check out.