Part One: The fastidious smoker in Hong Kong
In an expansive and nearly empty public space — the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade — he stood boxed between metal barricades and a tall chain-link fence. An R2-D2-sized, bright orange trash bin was his sole companion in this smoker’s exile.
He was surrounded by vacant green lawns and ventilated by the breeze off of Victoria Harbor, yet he remained strictly within the confines of the two-meter by two-meter plot officially allocated for public smoking.
He is one stunning example of both the strength of Hong Kong’s rule of law and the speed at which perception about public smoking has changed.
Smoking rates in Hong Kong are among the very lowest in the world at 11%, down from 23% in 1982 (Hong Kong’s Department of Health). Acceptance of smoking bans in public spaces is generally high.
Part Two: The Chinese “non-smoking” hotel room
Recently, a friend visited Mainland China for business. He has traveled to China many times and speaks decent Mandarin. He was not surprised when, upon entering his mid-market “no-smoking” hotel room, he inhaled the scent of stale smoke.
He called the front desk to complain and they promptly sent someone up to his room.
A porter arrived, entered, collected the room’s several glass ashtrays, and exited.
The room was now deemed to be non-smoking.
Smoking rates in Mainland China are high (Gallup) and what smoking bans do exist are often ignored. Further,
(I wonder what marketing genius at the state-owned China Tobacco Corporation planted that seed in the public’s mind.)
In May, officials banned smoking in Beijing’s Forbidden City. Wind of change?