Following a public consultation launch to reduce smoking in Hong Kong, Professor Lo Chung-mau, the territory’s health minister, has pitched a truly bizarre suggestion…to stare at smokers.
This recommendation, although an unusual one, is hoped to reduce the number of smokers lighting up in public spaces, even if it is just from being made to feel uncomfortable.
Professor Lo said: “When the members of the public see people with cigarettes 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.”
Statutory no-smoking areas in Hong Kong currently include parts of restaurants, workplaces, indoor public places and select outdoor public areas – with penalties of HK$1,500 (£147) for breaches.
Professor Lo, who is also a medical doctor, said smoking was bad for the health of everyone and Hong Kong needed a ‘culture in society that people are willing to comply with the law’.
Whilst their concerns are focused on the right topic – to assist in the quitting of smoking cigarettes – it can’t be said this technique will be very effective both in the short and long-term.
For a more productive approach, it would be more beneficial to engage in a respectful and open conversation to aid in smokers’ quitting journeys.
Other proven ways that can help may include sharing information about the health risks, being more empathetic and supportive rather than confrontational, or by providing healthier alternatives such as vaping.
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