Illegal Smoking Mapping launched

Blue Skies China has launched a pilot Illegal Smoking Mapping (ISM) project, with the aim of collecting data on illegal smoking in Hong Kong’s non-smoking areas.

Through ISM, collaborators will collect data using a GIS-based app, which collects three key pieces of data: location; evidence type (eg smoker or cigarette butt); and a photo of the evidence. The app also records date and time, as well as GPS accuracy where GPS is used to mark the location.

The project was conceived as part of Blue Skies China’s Zero Smoke campaign, in response to a perceived lack of respect for non-smoking areas in Hong Kong, and a lack of government will to investigate complaints.

Woeful investigation procedure

One example highlights the problem. Following complaints of abundant illegal smoking in Fortune City One mall, the government sent Tobacco Control Officers (TCOs) to investigate. Under their investigation, they claimed to have found NO instances of illegal smoking.

However, a casual inspection by Blue Skies China found hundreds of infringements over a very short space of time. At that point, we decided some firm and undeniable evidence collection would have some value in supporting complaints and pressuring the government to do a better job of investigaiton and enforecement.

Early results promising

A casual trial of ISM in August 2017 revealed 76 illegal smoking data points in just a few weeks of causal use (ie, with the app user simply going about normal daily life and recording only when passing through non-smoking areas). In fact, there was no “non-smoking” area visited by the app user unsullied by cigarette smoke during the first collection period. The data has been passed to the government to support Tobacco Control activities for response and follow-up.

The Google Map below visualises the data.

Anyone interested in participating in the data collection project please email

About James Ockenden (300 Articles)
Writer, journalist and sustainability consultant with a passion for clean technology and public health. 25 years covering power and energy markets: former editor of Power Plant Technology, International Power Generation, Asian Electricity, Aircraft Economics, Energy Risk, Asia Risk, Benchmark; writer for South China Morning Post, Cathay Dragon's Silkroad, APlus, Veolia's "Planet", Hong Kong Tatler; founder of Blue Skies China. MSocSc in Corporate Environmental Governance, University of Hong Kong; BA & MA degree in Natural Sciences (major in Materials Science & Metallurgy), Cambridge University.
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