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Hong Kong

CTA Letter to LEGCO on Nicotine content of the JUUL electronic nicotine delivery system

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Asian consumers push for right to use smoking alternatives

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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
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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.

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.

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