Organisers of a tobacco industry conference in Hong Kong are fuming after discovering it will be a no-smoking event thanks to the city’s new smoking ban, a report has said.
The Tobacco Asia Expo, which starts this week, had been organised for Hong Kong’s new Asia World Expo Centre on the understanding the wide-ranging laws that ban smoking in public places would not be passed until later this year.
Event planners had also believed that the venue would provide smoking areas where visitors to the show could test the products on display.
"We booked the venue a long time ago. We understood from people in the industry at the time that the debate on the ban was working its way through the system and that only sometime in 2007 this law would be enacted," Glenn John, editor of Bangkok-based Asia Tobacco magazine, one of the organisers, was quoted as telling the Sunday Morning Post newspaper.
"We thought it might be the middle of the year. Little did we know it would start on January 1, only two weeks before our show."
The ban applies to all public venues, beaches, most bars and restaurants. It was passed at the start of the year, more than a decade after the idea was first mooted.
It is designed not to curb the deadly habit but to protect the city’s 200,000 hospitality trade workers from the dangers of second-hand smoke.