Home Entertainment Crackdown on Illegal Waterpipe Smoking in Hong Kong Bars

Crackdown on Illegal Waterpipe Smoking in Hong Kong Bars

Illegal Waterpipe Smoking v1

Hong Kong authorities have launched a major crackdown on illegal waterpipe smoking in bars and restaurants, issuing dozens of fines and warning of potential prosecution against venue operators.

In a joint operation on Wednesday evening, officers from the Tobacco and Alcohol Control Office (TACO) and the Hong Kong Police inspected 34 establishments in the popular nightlife districts of Tsim Sha Tsui, Central, and Wan Chai.

They issued a total of 43 fixed penalty notices to individuals caught smoking waterpipes, a practice that is banned in indoor no-smoking areas under Hong Kong’s public health laws. Authorities are also investigating the bar and restaurant operators, who could face charges for aiding and abetting the illegal activity.

“Waterpipe smoking is just as harmful, if not more so, than cigarettes,” said a spokesman for the Department of Health. “We will continue to closely monitor this issue and take strong enforcement action wherever we find violations.”

The crackdown comes amid growing concerns over the health risks posed by waterpipe, or “shisha,” smoking. Health officials warn that a typical one-hour waterpipe session can expose users to 100 to 200 times the amount of smoke from a single cigarette.

Beyond the health hazards, authorities are also concerned about the potential for infectious disease transmission when waterpipe apparatuses are shared among users.

Over the past 12 months, TACO has conducted 25 undercover operations against illegal waterpipe smoking, issuing 77 fixed penalty notices and 74 additional summonses.

The spokesman urged bar and restaurant operators not to enable or assist in any unlawful smoking activities on their premises. Venue managers have the authority to request that offenders cease smoking, and can call the police if they do not comply.

“We will continue to work closely with law enforcement to tackle this issue and protect public health,” the spokesman said. “The message is clear – waterpipe smoking is prohibited in no-smoking areas, and we will not hesitate to take action against both the smokers and the venues that enable this illegal practice.”