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Hong Kong

Tobacco Control Board urged to smoke out offenders

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Tobacco industry denormalisation beliefs in Hong Kong adolescents

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Tobacco taxes alone cannot stub out habit

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Tobacco Endgame and Effective Tobacco Tax Policy

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Alternative tobacco product met with government scepticism

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Raise tax on tobacco and make smokers pay for health costs

I support Gauri Venkitaraman’s plea for bans in public areas where the permeation of cigarette smoke is harmful for passers-by or those trying to enjoy the outdoors (“Smoking in public leaves even non-smokers in Hong Kong facing serious health risks [1]”, July 11).

Non-smokers in proximity risk having their asthma flare up. Curious toddlers could become poisoned by ingesting carelessly discarded butts.

The fire contagion risk posed by still-burning cigarette ends is well known during the height of Australia’s bush-fire-prone sizzling summer and hot summers elsewhere.

Less smoking means fewer discarded butts posing a fire hazard. Another reason to impose smoking bans is to prevent adverse lifestyle role modelling for impressionable children.

From a public health perspective, raising tobacco sales tax is likely to reduce daily cigarette consumption and, more importantly, dissuade adolescents from taking up smoking. The cost disincentive of a higher tax holds the potential to improve the community burden of heart and lung disease that consumes avoidable health-care outlays.

It’s about time smokers who adopt unhealthy life habits subsidised the huge expense incurred in treating the acute exacerbation of chronic lung disease, pulmonary community rehabilitation as well as stents and bypass surgery required to alleviate coronary artery disease. Smokers have an addiction requiring an external agency to help them give up.

Imposing higher taxes on fast food and alcohol offers opportunities to improve public health related to “diabesity” (diabetes plus obesity), alcohol-related trauma and interpersonal violence. If we can extend sales tax disincentives to fast food and alcohol, then claims that a tobacco tax discriminates against smokers cannot be justified.

Joseph Ting, associate professor, School of Public Health and

Social Work, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
________________________________________
Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/2103457/raise-tax-tobacco-and-make-smokers-pay-health-costs

Smoking in public leaves even non-smokers in Hong Kong facing serious health risks

Cigarette smoking definitely seems to be on the rise in Hong Kong. I commute to and from work by bus and, of late, the amount of second-hand smoke in the vicinity of bus stops has increased substantially.

http://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/2102188/smoking-public-leaves-even-non-smokers-hong-kong-facing-serious

There are huge rubbish bins near every bus stop, and people seem to view this as indicating a smoking spot. There have been many instances when I’ve found people smoking while waiting at the bus stops as well. Many times, people simply throw their half-smoked cigarettes in the little receptacle on top of the bins, without stubbing them out. This results in a continuous cloud of cigarette smoke billowing from the many burning stubs on top of the bins.

The other day, I found two schoolchildren hanging around a rubbish bin and one of them was about to surreptitiously pick up one of the burning stubs that someone had tossed away. Kids are, by nature, curious, and burning stubs lying within reach pose the danger of tempting them to try smoking.

Inhaling second-hand smoke is also very harmful and could lead to serious health issues down the line. Humans can be self-indulgent but usually the ill-effects are restricted to that individual. However, when it comes to smoking in public, the ill-effects are not restricted to the smoker. The negative effects of passive smoking has an impact on other people too, an impact that is scientifically proved to be tangible, measurable and, at times, permanent.

Just imposing high tobacco taxes has not really had an impact, as far as pedestrians being forced to inhale second-hand smoke goes. A legal move to increase the size of warnings on the cigarette packs has met with fierce resistance, accompanied by lobbying by tobacco executives and their lawyers.

Many countries have enforced compulsory, graphic health warning signs covering most of the surface area of cigarette packs, along with plain packaging that reduces the effect of branding for drab-looking packs.

The government has laws in place but there needs to be efficient enforcement. When it comes to use of controlled substances like tobacco, there has to be a healthy modicum of respect on the part of users towards the health of non-users, and this is simply not going to be possible as long as effective measures are not enforced.

Gauri Venkitaraman, Lam Tin

Hong Kong Customs seizes suspected illicit cigarettes

Hong Kong Customs yesterday (June 2) seized about 1.5 million suspected illicit cigarettes with an estimated market value of about $4.1 million and a duty potential of about $2.9 million at Man Kam To Control Point.

http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201706/03/P2017060200961.htm

Customs officers intercepted an incoming truck declared to contain cloth at Man Kam To Control Point yesterday. After inspection, Customs officers found about 1.5 million suspected illicit cigarettes inside 156 carton boxes. A male driver, aged 52, was arrested and the truck has been detained for further investigation. Investigation is ongoing.

Smuggling is a serious offence. Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

Members of the public may report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Saturday, June 3, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:30

Support World No Tobacco Day – say “no” to tobacco

To support the World No Tobacco Day 2017, the Department of Health (DH) today (May 31) held a sharing session to remind the public again of the hazards of smoking and to urge smokers to quit smoking as early as possible.

http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201705/31/P2017053100249.htm

Speaking at the sharing session, the Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan, said that the World Health Organization (WHO) has marked May 31 as World No Tobacco Day annually. The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2017 is “Tobacco – a threat to development”, with the aim of demonstrating the threats posed by tobacco to the world’s sustainable development, including public health and the economy. Dr Chan strongly urged members of the public to say “no” to tobacco and to continue supporting the Government’s efforts in tobacco control.

“With the collaborative efforts of the Government and various sectors over the years, the work on tobacco control in Hong Kong has attained pleasing results, with a drop in overall smoking prevalence from 23.3 per cent in the 1980s to 10.5 per cent in 2015. Nonetheless, casualties and economic loss directly and indirectly caused by tobacco remain tremendous. Local studies revealed that tobacco-related fatalities reach nearly 7 000 people annually and the economic loss resulting from tobacco-related health problems is estimated to be about 5.5 billion every year,” Dr Chan said.

“Smoking is a causative agent of many cancers as well as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Smoking causes harm not only to the smoker but also to their family members and friends due to the secondhand smoke induced, which increases their risk of cancer and many other chronic diseases as well as the chance of children developing respiratory symptoms,” Dr Chan added.

Sharing the research findings on local smoking-related mortality and morbidity conducted by the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chair Professor of the School of Public Health of the HKU, Professor Lam Tai-hing, pointed out that at least one out of every two elderly smokers died of tobacco-related diseases. He said that the Government must continue to adopt various tobacco control measures to encourage smokers to quit the habit.

The Head of the Tobacco Control Office of the DH, Dr Lee Pui-man, introduced in the sharing session 12 new pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets, which better inform the public about the specific hazards of tobacco use to smokers and their families. Experience and evidence from the WHO and around the globe also demonstrate that pictorial health warnings are an effective intervention, and increasing the size of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets is now an international trend.

“The graphics and designs of health warnings should be updated regularly so as to maintain their salience and enhance the impact. The Government updates pictorial health warnings coupled with multiple tobacco control measures to discourage members of the public from smoking and encourage smokers to quit,” Dr Lee said.

Smokers who intend to quit smoking can call the DH’s Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline on 1833 183, where registered nurses provide professional counselling services on smoking cessation and will also refer service users to suitable social service agencies for follow-up when necessary. To enhance smoking cessation services to smokers, the DH will launch a pilot public-private partnership programme this year to trial a new mode of smoking cessation service supported by family physicians.

In addition, the DH will collaborate with a renowned medical institution, Mayo Clinic, in the United States to organise an online training programme on tobacco dependence treatment, which will be rolled out within this year. Family physicians joining the programme will acquire skills and knowledge on smoking cessation via e-learning, and their capacity in providing smoking cessation services will be further enhanced through training and assessment. The programme aims to ensure that they can provide quitters with effective evidence-based treatment.

In addition, two patient representatives shared their experience of smoking at the sharing session, ranging from smoking-related diseases to successfully quitting the habit. They urged other smokers to quit smoking as early as possible and to seek help on smoking cessation if necessary.

Support World No Tobacco Day – say “no” to tobacco

To support the World No Tobacco Day 2017, the Department of Health (DH) today (May 31) held a sharing session to remind the public again of the hazards of smoking and to urge smokers to quit smoking as early as possible.

http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201705/31/P2017053100249.htm

Speaking at the sharing session, the Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan, said that the World Health Organization (WHO) has marked May 31 as World No Tobacco Day annually. The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2017 is “Tobacco – a threat to development”, with the aim of demonstrating the threats posed by tobacco to the world’s sustainable development, including public health and the economy. Dr Chan strongly urged members of the public to say “no” to tobacco and to continue supporting the Government’s efforts in tobacco control.

“With the collaborative efforts of the Government and various sectors over the years, the work on tobacco control in Hong Kong has attained pleasing results, with a drop in overall smoking prevalence from 23.3 per cent in the 1980s to 10.5 per cent in 2015. Nonetheless, casualties and economic loss directly and indirectly caused by tobacco remain tremendous. Local studies revealed that tobacco-related fatalities reach nearly 7 000 people annually and the economic loss resulting from tobacco-related health problems is estimated to be about 5.5 billion every year,” Dr Chan said.

“Smoking is a causative agent of many cancers as well as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Smoking causes harm not only to the smoker but also to their family members and friends due to the secondhand smoke induced, which increases their risk of cancer and many other chronic diseases as well as the chance of children developing respiratory symptoms,” Dr Chan added.

Sharing the research findings on local smoking-related mortality and morbidity conducted by the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chair Professor of the School of Public Health of the HKU, Professor Lam Tai-hing, pointed out that at least one out of every two elderly smokers died of tobacco-related diseases. He said that the Government must continue to adopt various tobacco control measures to encourage smokers to quit the habit.

The Head of the Tobacco Control Office of the DH, Dr Lee Pui-man, introduced in the sharing session 12 new pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets, which better inform the public about the specific hazards of tobacco use to smokers and their families. Experience and evidence from the WHO and around the globe also demonstrate that pictorial health warnings are an effective intervention, and increasing the size of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packets is now an international trend.

“The graphics and designs of health warnings should be updated regularly so as to maintain their salience and enhance the impact. The Government updates pictorial health warnings coupled with multiple tobacco control measures to discourage members of the public from smoking and encourage smokers to quit,” Dr Lee said.

Smokers who intend to quit smoking can call the DH’s Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline on 1833 183, where registered nurses provide professional counselling services on smoking cessation and will also refer service users to suitable social service agencies for follow-up when necessary. To enhance smoking cessation services to smokers, the DH will launch a pilot public-private partnership programme this year to trial a new mode of smoking cessation service supported by family physicians.

In addition, the DH will collaborate with a renowned medical institution, Mayo Clinic, in the United States to organise an online training programme on tobacco dependence treatment, which will be rolled out within this year. Family physicians joining the programme will acquire skills and knowledge on smoking cessation via e-learning, and their capacity in providing smoking cessation services will be further enhanced through training and assessment. The programme aims to ensure that they can provide quitters with effective evidence-based treatment.

In addition, two patient representatives shared their experience of smoking at the sharing session, ranging from smoking-related diseases to successfully quitting the habit. They urged other smokers to quit smoking as early as possible and to seek help on smoking cessation if necessary.

Ends/Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:18