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Hong Kongers urged to stare at smokers in a disapproving way to help create a tobacco-free city

People in Hong Kong should stare at smokers disapprovingly as part of efforts to create a tobacco-free city, the territory’s health minister has said.

Professor Lo Chung-mau said people who have lit up in areas where it is prohibited are unlikely to “hit back” if everyone stares at them, local media has reported.

“Cigarettes can harm the health of all of us,” Professor Lo told a meeting of the Legislative Council’s health service panel on Friday.

“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

“When someone takes out a cigarette at a restaurant, everyone on the premises can stare at that person. I do not believe that person would dare to hit back at everyone at the restaurant as they are simply staring.”

Professor Lo said the behaviour would help to create a “non-smoking culture” in the city.

He continued: “Take queuing at a bus stop as an example. 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.”

Professor Lo also warned authorities will use surveillance footage or video clips provided by members of the public as evidence to crack down on smokers lighting up in restricted areas, the South China Morning Post reports.

Statutory no-smoking areas in Hong Kong include parts of restaurants, workplaces, indoor public places and some outdoor public places, with penalties of HK$1,500 (£147) for breaches.

On Wednesday, health authorities in Hong Kong launched a public consultation paper for new strategies to tackle smoking.

Ideas included banning people born after a certain date from buying cigarettes and whether to increase the tax on tobacco to 75% of the package price in a rapid or gradual way.

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