Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

Clear The Air

Clear The Air Request to Members to Show Support for 85% Graphic Health Warnings

Dear Clear the Air members and interested readers/researchers


This is an urgent request for support for the Hong Kong Government policy on upgrading the 2007 graphic warnings from 50% to 85% coverage of the area, doubling the number, and adding a quitline number – not that far off plain packaging.

Opposition from the vile and heinous child addicting tobacco industry has been intense, particularly as HK is seen as an exemplar for the Asia-Pacific region, with an effect more far-reaching than just the 7 million who live here.

The industry and their paid front groups are bombarding Government and Legislative Council with letters, and it would be very helpful and save lives if you could sign the (sample) letter below and send to Legco before 17th January 20917 when the important meeting will take place to discuss this important health prevention measure.

Send the email, you do not have to be a permanent resident of Hong Kong.

Date: 13th January 20917

Panel on Health Services
Legislative Council
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China

Re: 85% Graphic Tobacco Pack Warnings in Hong Kong
I/we support the Hong Kong government proposal to upgrade the current graphic pack warnings, to 85% coverage as outlined below.

I AGREE that my submission be made available to the media as per Legco requirements and the public and be uploaded onto the Legislative Council website.

Yours sincerely,





Contact email/verifiable details/:

Briefing paper from the government to Legco:
LC Paper No. CB(2)386/16-17(05)
The Proposal

3. At present, the Smoking (Public Health) (Notices) Order (Cap. 371B) stipulates that the health warning should cover at least 50% of the two largest surfaces of the packet or retail container of cigarette, cigar, pipe tobacco and cigarette tobacco in accordance with the prescribed forms and pictures. The existing batch of health warning pictures has been in use since 2007. The Government now proposes to change the prescribed forms of health warnings and the indication of tar and nicotine yields on the packet and retail container of cigarette and relevant tobacco products.

4. We propose to amend the prescribed forms (including specifications) of the health warnings, the size and number of the health warnings and messages for the packet or retail container of cigarettes and tobacco products under the Smoking (Public Health) (Notices) Order as follows –
(a) the area of the graphic health warning shall be of a size that covers at least 85% of two largest surfaces of the packet or the retail container;
(b) the number of forms of health warning will increase from six to
(c) the following health warning message is to be included in the
existing statement “HKSAR GOVERNMENT WARNING” / “香
港特區政府忠告市民” –
“請為你的下一代戒煙”; and
“QUITLINE: 1833 183” / “戒煙熱線:1833 183”;

(d) the indication of tar and nicotine yields should be printed on a side adjacent to a typical flip-top lid of a cigarette packet, excluding the portion which forms part of the lid and the two largest surfaces, presented in a conspicuous place of such side of
the packet.

Tobacco stats for Hong Kong years 2013-2016

Clear the Air herewith provides our readers with Tobacco stats for Hong Kong years 2013-2016


The figures tell us that the Hong Kong Government preventative health measures are blatantly NOT WORKING.

The sales of duty paid cigarettes continue to spiral instead of decreasing.

The Government takes over $6 billion in tobacco excise taxes then throws only crumbs to tobacco control and prevention resources – the $6bn remainder goes to pouring white elephant concrete.

The excise tax is manifestly insufficient for a 1st world country with such a high cost of living. Hong Kong needs to match Australia, New Zealand, UK , Ireland excise tax levels to have a preventative effect.

Hence tobacco remains affordable to youth here whilst Government apathy and lack of political will to act reign supreme. A form of misconduct in public office for their failure of duty of care to the people.

Meanwhile there is no apparent political will to force a legislative change to place the onus on landlords to prevent smoking in their licensed premises (whereas on the Mainland they have such laws).

As long as people can go out and smoke in places of entertainment with negligible chances of being caught, they will continue to do so.

Abysmal state of affairs. The highly paid incumbents would have been fired long ago in a business enterprise.

Public support for combating black market cigarettes hits all-time high whilst public perception of its severity dips

Clear the Air (CTA) says:

The China Ratified FCTC Treaty mandates increasing tobacco excise tax a) in excess of inflation rate and b) at regular yearly intervals to make tobacco unaffordable to youth.

Most youths start smoking and nicotine addiction before the age of 18. Hence it is important they do not start – that would be the death knell for Big Tobacco which callously addicts children in the pursuit of increased profits.

Preventative health measures include tobacco excise taxation, plain packaging of tobacco products to remove attractive colours from the Silent Salesman (pack containers),
placing the onus on premises owners and licensees to stop people smoking in workplaces such as restaurants and bars, COMPREHENSIVE instead of piecemeal public smoking bans and legislation, point of sale display bans and licensing of tobacco retailers, raising the tobacco use and buying age to 21 (frontal lobe development in youth thinking patterns starts to change at that age) and mandating large graphic health warnings printed on the retail packs – these should be rotated at regular intervals.

The FCTC Treaty also requires that any contact with the tobacco industry by Governments should be solely to regulate them and such meetings should be held in public.

Moreover on a regular basis the tobacco industry are supposed under the FCTC legal binding instrument to provide information on what organisations and front groups they have been funding and any forbidden CSR Projects they have entered into.

This heinous industry seeks to addict children as replacement addicted customers for their older customers that are literally dying off.

Two in every three smokers will be killed by their addiction to the nicotine in tobacco.

Recognition of their front groups and those seeking to further the interests of Big Tobacco should be rejected, and they should be publically shamed for fronting for the merchants of death.

Worldwide, Big Tobacco uses the same tactics: they blatantly lie in order to protect their market share: in fact they are the source of smuggling genuine products which they refer to as ‘Transit’ or ‘General Cargo’

RICO convicted Racketeers (Big T) state:

– Tobacco smuggling will increase if excise tax is increased
– Plain packaging does not work
– Graphic warnings do not work, hides their trademarks
– What they do not advertise is they are RICO convicted racketeers

Clear the Air:

CTA: this is a crime prevention matter and handled by HK Customs very well
CTA: Australia has proven the exact opposite and many countries are now following this path
CTA: hundreds of peer reviewed scientific reports prove otherwise. Australian and UK courts overturned their appeals
CTA: FACT ! the US judgment is attached in the file


A survey conducted by Ipsos Hong Kong Limited (Ipsos), an independent opinion research specialist, reveals that whilst public perception of the black market cigarette problem dipped, a record number of respondents believe that increased government action is necessary to combat the illicit cigarette trade.

“Black market cigarettes cannot be eliminated by simply implementing one measure” said Jeff Herbert, advisor to the Hong Kong United Against Illicit Trade (HKUAIT). “In addition to considering stricter penalties and other measures such as strong minimum sentences, and increasing public education, the Hong Kong Government needs to ensure that it does not implement legislation such as drastic tax increases or excessive health warnings as international experience shows that these regulations could possibly reverse the downward trend of illicit cigarettes in Hong Kong.”

According to the latest Oxford Economics “Asia Illicit Tobacco Indicator 2015″ report, illicit cigarettes contributed to 29.1% of total cigarette consumption. However, while still accounting for nearly 1 in 3 cigarettes consumed in Hong Kong, the illicit cigarette trend has seen a gradual decline since recording at 35.9% in 2012.

In an Ipsos survey released today, Ipsos Director Mick Gordon highlighted that “the findings clearly show that approximately 3 in 4 respondents believe drastic increases in tobacco duty, insufficient penalties and sophisticated criminal networks contribute to the problem of illicit cigarettes in Hong Kong”.

“Tobacco duty revision rates, while important, is not the only regulatory measure that should be approached cautiously”, Jeff warns. “As a matter of principle, HKUAIT agrees that tobacco duty needs to be revised periodically. However, any increase should take into account prevailing social and economic conditions, reflected in the Government’s annual Consumer Price Index report”.

In May last year, the Food and Health Bureau issued a letter notifying selected stakeholders that it plans on pushing ahead with a legislative proposal that increases the size of health warnings on tobacco products from 50% to 85%.

“This legislative proposal is particularly worrying because we can foresee the direct effect it has on the illicit tobacco trade”, adds Patrick Wong, Executive Director of HKUAIT. Several stakeholders, including HKUAIT, have argued that the illicit trade of cigarettes will further proliferate if the proposed 85% graphic health warning is implemented alongside a requirement to insert tar and nicotine levels on side panels. Viewed together, available space for tobacco manufacturers to print security and authentication features is further reduced, resulting in a less secure supply chain and an environment that facilitates illicit trade.

The 85% health warning debate continues at the Legislative Council’s Panel on Health Services (Panel). Members of the public are invited to submit their views online (up to 10 January 2017). A special meeting of the Panel to discuss this issue has been scheduled for 17 January 2017.

This survey was commissioned by HKUAIT and conducted by Ipsos in December 2016. More than a thousand Hong Kong adult citizens participated in this survey. Over the last 4 years, HKUAIT has commissioned similar surveys to gauge the public’s perception of the illicit cigarette problem and how it may affect the lives of Hong Kong citizens.

Worldwide Cigarette Price per pack (Marlboro ) 2016

Download (PDF, 700KB)

Enact Total Ban on E-Cigarettes and Enlargement of Pictorial Health Warnings Promptly

Download (PDF, 568KB)

Download (PDF, 777KB)

World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2016

Clear the Air says:

The rest of the world is starting to follow the WHO directive, except here, where the clocks are winding back instead of forward.

Hong Kong Health Bureau officials, having learned the Ombudsman is chasing their lack of effort and political will, have now decided they will press for

– Oops not plain packaging-

they will (following 3rd world country India who already did it) press instead for an 85% graphic health warning (replacing outmoded 50% current) on the packet, but the whole idea is to take away the glitzy colors which Big Tobacco uses on its ‘Silent Salesman’ packet, its remaining legal advertising gullible youth attractant fly paper

Whiskers middle class citizen food truck promoting Tsang took in HKD 6.297 bn last year in excise tobacco tax to the concrete pouring fund, and doled out a meagre HKD 160 million for tobacco control whilst HK continues to subvent the costs of smoking related health care as tobacco executives with impunity continue to smuggle (not control their supply chains) their own brands to get more market share =more deaths = defeat tobacco control existing flimsy methods.

Earlier, last month on May 20, France and Britain each began the implementation of plain packaging under new laws. Ireland is also preparing to introduce the measure this year; Hungary and Norway are in the process of developing laws to implement plain packaging; Singapore is undertaking a public consultation with a view to introducing plain packaging; and several other countries, including New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey, have either expressed an intent to implement the measure or are in the policy development process. Canada follows Australia’s lead and has sued Big Tobacco and won, CAD 15 billion for recovery of health care costs – why not here ?

Get ready for plain packaging

Plain packaging of tobacco products can save lives by reducing demand for tobacco products, and is recommended in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. “Plain packaging reduces the attractiveness of tobacco products. It kills the glamour, which is appropriate for a product that kills people,” says WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.

Scientists trying to cure cancer have pensions invested in tobacco industry



Scientists funded by are among thousands of academics with pensions invested in the tobacco industry, it has emerged.

The pension fund for university staff owned £211 million in British American Tobacco as of March 2015, its fifth biggest equity holding.

Cancer Research UK ensures that its employees’ pension funds free of tobacco industry investments.

Many people would be shocked to learn that their pensions are invested in tobacco company sharesGeorge Butterworth, Cancer Research UK

However, the charity funds many full-time academic posts at British universities whose pensions are invested through the Universities Superannuation scheme (USS), worth £49 billion in 2015.

Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors and principals, said the USS was a responsible investor, but public health campaigners argue it is not possible to reform the tobacco industry and have called on investors to dump their holdings.

The tobacco investment has come as a shock to many researchers, academics and staff, many of whom have spent their working lives searching for cancer cures.

George Butterworth, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy manager, said: “The tobacco industry’s deadly products are responsible for one in four cancer deaths.

“Many people would be shocked to learn that their pensions are invested in tobacco company shares – especially those striving to develop cures for diseases caused by this lethal industry.

“To help make it easier for organizations’ pension schemes to opt out of tobacco shares, we’re now funding the UK arm of Tobacco Free Portfolios to encourage investment funds to divest form tobacco stocks.”

However, Universities UK defended its pension strategy.

“USS, as part of its investment duties, takes into account wider social, ethical, and environmental and governance issues, so long as that ensures that the assets of the scheme are invested in the best financial interest of members and their beneficiaries,” said a spokesman.

“USS is also a responsible and engaged investor.

“They have for example, undertaken engagement with tobacco companies on marketing approaches and regulations around e-cigarettes.”


Download (PDF, 276KB)

Enact the amendment to the licence conditions to specifically forbid smoking and make the licensee answerable

Dear Madam,

Thankyou for your pointless reply mentioning licence condition 7, which we have been telling you needs amendment by the addition of one simple sentence.

This would effectively add 13,000 additional enforcement staff to TCO.

We will accordingly publish your reply on our website and encourage all members of the public henceforth seeing illegal smoking offences in licensed premises to report the matter to the police, as a complaint against the licensee under Condition 7 of the liquor licence, instead of Tobacco Control Office.

I am sure the police will welcome your expert advice and workload, so we copied them also.

James Middleton
Clear the Air


Sent: 24 May, 2016 04:11 PM

Subject: Re: LiquorLic-Apathy-remainsabject.pdf

Dear Mr. Middleton,

Thank you for your email on 13.5.2016 suggesting amending the licensing conditions for liquor licence to specifically forbid smoking and make the licensee liable for that. Your email has been considered by the Liquor Licensing Board (the Board).

The Board is established under the Dutiable Commodities (Liquor) Regulations, Cap. 109B as a statutory body to consider applications for liquor licences. Where applications for liquor licence are made to the Board, the Board will consider each application on its individual merits and decide on whether or not to grant a liquor licence based on the circumstances and evidence of each case as well as comments and reports from government departments and the Hong Kong Police Force, who is the enforcement agent of Cap. 109B. If the Board decides to grant a liquor licence, it may grant a liquor licence without conditions or subject to such conditions as it thinks fit.

At present, licensing condition 7 for liquor licence stipulates that “The licensee shall not permit any person to occupy or use any portion of the premises for any immoral or illegal purpose.” As the enforcement agent of Cap. 109B, Police will conduct regular inspections and investigate complaints against liquor licensed premises. Whether or not the licensee is in breach of licensing condition depends on the circumstances of the case and the evidence available. Police will take appropriate enforcement actions against the licensee, including issue of advice, warnings or summons, if there is any breach of licensing conditions or the provisions of Cap. 109B. Any breach of the licensing condition(s) by individual licensee should be reported to the Police for investigation and enforcement actions where appropriate.

Under such circumstances, the Board considered that it would not be necessary to amend the existing licensing conditions for liquor licence.

Regarding your complaint against the premises “Sawadee Thai” in Yuen Long for placing ash trays on tables, your complaint has been referred to the Police and Tobacco Control Office for investigation and follow-up actions under their purviews.

Best regards,

Maggie YIU
for Secretary, Liquor Licensing Board


Date: 13/5/2016 15:55
Subject: LiquorLic-Apathy-remainsabject.pdf

Liquor Licensing Board
Chairman and Members

Dear Sir,

I refer to our letter to the Liquor Licensing Board , already 5 years ago now, attached.

Almost 7,000 people died per year in Hong Kong from smoking related illnesses.

21% of them were from passive smoking, no doubt including workplace staff.

If people cannot go out to bars and smoke, they will stop.

I would urge you to enact the amendment to the licence conditions to specifically forbid smoking and make the licensee answerable for same.

As an example I go to a restaurant near my home, Sawasdee Thai in Yuen Long.

Despite numerous complaint reports and warnings they actually place ash trays on tables, as do many licensed premises throughout HKG as the licensees are basically bullet proof – only the smoker gets targeted and the Tobacco Control Office has been allocated less than 50 staff per shift to cover HKI, Kowloon, NT, Islands, Marine and Planet HKG, so the chances of being caught in flagrante delicto are negligible, as the massively underfunded TCO only can respond days later to such complaints.

The fact that the seeming friend of Big T tax revenues, Financial Secretary, received $6.3 billion in tobacco excise tax (aka the white elephant concrete pouring fund) and allocates only $160 million to tobacco related control measures is despicable, as is the Health Bureau and HK Government abject lack of political will to do anything about this mess.

If you will not make a simple amendment to all licenses, then blood is on your hands and remains there for your previous non action.

The licensees currently encourage smoking with no onus on them otherwise, through flawed legislation.

Only Macau and Hong Kong do not place the onus on the licensee to enforce the law.

You can change that without even going to Legco.

Get moving.

Yours faithfully,

James Middleton

Clear The Air on International Tax and Investment Center

Download (PDF, 563KB)