A growing number of countries around the world have adopted strict tobacco bans – Spain and Greece being the most recent – but Asian nations are still finding it hard to curb the puffing habit.
Last year, George Institute of Global Health found that a third of the world’s smokers are concentrated in our region. The Chinese Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week revealed that 28 percent of the Chinese population alone – 301 million people – smoked in 2010, resulting in some 740 million people being exposed to second-hand smoke. In India, at least 50 percent of the male population use tobacco.
Effective tobacco curbing initiatives are overshadowed by loopholes in the law or the large profits the tobacco industry makes. Smoking laws differ from country to country. On one extreme, places such as Hong Kong and Singapore progressively have expanded anti-smoking laws to more public places, while on the other end, China and Japan have not put any restrictions to reduce their population's smoking habits. For now, large hotel groups and boutique hotels have taken the initiative to promote clean air around the region:
Hong Kong implemented a near-blanket smoking ban in restaurants, bars, workplaces and beaches in 2009.
The Mira: From February 9, 2011, the hotel will go smoke-free.
Options for smokers: Guests will still be allowed to smoke in the terrace garden, Vibes, or they can step out of the property and patronise the restaurants and bars along Knutsford Terrace (opposite The Mira), which feature al fresco areas.
For more information, visit www.themirahotel.com
The Upper House: The Swire Group's boutique hotel became completely smoke-free in March last year due to guest demands.
Options for smokers: The Lawn – an outdoor courtyard with loungers - is the hotel's designated smoking area.
For more information, visit www.upperhouse.com
Cosmo Hotel: In November last year, the four-star boutique hotel in Wanchai stopped offering smoking guestrooms.
Options for smokers: If they must light up, guests can use the outdoor terrace, Breeze, where they can access free wifi and enjoy complimentary coffee.
For more information, visit www.cosmohotel.com.hk
In India, chewing tobacco - not lighting up - makes prohibition laws more difficult to implement. In October 2008, the country implemented a smoking ban in public spaces, including restaurants, bars, workplaces and airports.
JW Marriott: This seaside hotel – a favourite of the Bollywood set – went completely smoke-free two years ago. (Its parent company, Marriott International, launched a smoke-free policy across its properties in North America and is slowly taking that philosophy global. As of now, the policy is not compulsory at most of its hotels in Asia.)
Options for smokers: There are designated smoking areas near the outdoor pool and on the top floor. Guests can also smoke along the public Juhu beach, which is just a short walk away from the hotel.
For more information, click here.
This island nation has strict laws on public hygiene, imposing hefty fines for littering, not flushing the toilet and selling chewing gum commercially. Rules discouraging smoking in public areas were formally introduced in 2007, and covered restaurants, bars, nightclubs, public toilets, bus and taxi queues, children’s playgrounds and workplaces.
Klapsons, the boutique hotel: This funky property, opened in 2009, has always been completely smoke-free.
Options for smokers: Smokers can puff in a designated smoking area outside from the hotel.
For more information, visit www.klapsons.com
Naumi hotel: This three-year-old boutique hotel is smoke-free except for its 10th floor.
Options for smokers: Along the rooftop pool on the 10th floor.
For more information, visit www.naumihotel.com
In Australia, smoking laws are implemented on a state-by-state basis. The smoking ban arrived in New South Wales in July 2007, prohibiting the act in all enclosed public places and workspaces.
The Westin Sydney: This property was the first hotel in the country to implement the policy in July 2006 at the same time as the Breathe Westin initiative was launched in North America. Now, 115 Westin properties around the world are smoke-free and the bam is slowlyh taking hold as the brand strives to banish smoking across the board. The company is so committed to a clean environment that guests are charged US$300 if traces of smoking are found in guestrooms.
Options for smokers: There is a designated outdoor smoking area and there are also al fresco dining options near the hotel.
For more information, visit www.westin.com.au/sydney