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LCQ4: Progress of designating public transport interchanges as no smoking areas

    Following is a question by the Hon Andrew Cheng and a reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (November 28):


     During the scrutiny of the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Bill 2005 by this Council last year, the Government accepted my relevant suggestion and decided to empower the Director of Health to designate public transport interchanges ("PTIs") as statutory no smoking areas. However, the Government proposed that the initiative would not be implemented until it had completed its work on setting up a fixed penalty system for smoking offence in 12 to 15 months' time following the enactment of the Bill. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  given that 13 months have lapsed since the enactment of the above Bill, when the Director of Health will designate PTIs as no smoking areas;
(b)  of the latest progress of the Government's work to demarcate the boundaries of no smoking areas in PTIs, and the respective situations in respect of the PTIs in covered premises and in the open air; and
(c)  whether it will introduce into this Council a bill on setting up a fixed penalty system for smoking offence within 2007; if not, of the reasons for that?


Madam President,

     I would like to provide a consolidated reply to the question raised by the Hon Andrew Cheng as follows.

     During the committee stage of the Smoking (Public Health)(Amendment) Bill 2005, we reached a consensus with the Bills Committee to incorporate a provision into the legislation empowering the Director of Health to designate public transport interchanges (PTIs) as statutory no-smoking areas.

     As I explained at the resumption of the Second Reading debate on the Bill, "in view of the varying designs of PTIs, the designation of a no-smoking area in every PTI will require the support of additional resources and manpower. In accordance with the priorities of resource utilisation, we will first introduce a fixed penalty system for smoking offences before designating no-smoking areas in PTIs". The arrangement was also accepted by the Bills Committee.

     Our current priority is to prepare for introducing a fixed penalty system for smoking offences. We have just completed the consultation with the District Councils on the proposal and the drafting of the principal legislation is well underway. With the present work progress, we expect to introduce a Bill to the Legislative Council for scrutiny by early 2008. At the same time, the Department of Health is also working with other relevant government departments and the Judiciary to examine and formulate necessary practical procedures and an information system for the fixed penalty system to support the issuance of fixed penalty notices and other relevant follow-up actions. We expect that the practical arrangements to support the fixed penalty system will be put in place around 10 months after the enactment of the principal legislation.

     Depending on the progress of legislation and the successful implementation of the support arrangement, we are currently aiming to put the fixed penalty system into operation in 2009. We also plan to take forward the designation of PTIs as statutory no-smoking areas after the implementation of the fixed penalty system. Our initial plan is to first designate covered PTIs as statutory no-smoking areas. Designation of open PTIs as statutory no-smoking areas will be considered in the next stage.

Ends/Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Issued at HKT 14:26


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