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Following the implementation of the new legislation in banning smoking in almost all indoor workplaces and many outdoor areas that came into force in January (see Hong Kong, China: bad atmosphere for public health.
) , smoking has been banned in all common areas of public housing estates, except in a few small designated areas. Common areas include roads, pedestrian paths and pleasure grounds such as open areas, rest gardens, play areas and sports grounds.
Lack of well-defined boundaries at first made enforcement seem difficult, but the government’s housing estates authorities decided to extend the restricted areas after obtaining the support of most tenants. A decision was taken to designate no more than five smoking areas on each estate, irrespective of its size. Bordered by yellow or white lines, each is about 5 square metres enclosing the periphery of a bench. Enforcement is likely to be effective, as tenants who break the regulations can be penalised with five points without warning under a marking scheme, which can lead to eviction if a tenant accumulates 16 points within 2 years.
The new scheme is thought to be unprecedented in public housing, and must go some way to countering earlier criticism of the government for apparently caving in to industry pressures to allow some entertainment venues to set up smoking areas.