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January 14th, 2009:

Clear The Air: Cost of Tobacco In Hong Kong

Clear the Air says:

There is a misconception in Hong Kong that the Government wants people to continue to smoke so they can receive billions in excise tax dollars on tobacco products.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In 2007 Hong Kong Government collected 2.834 billion in tobacco tax. Meanwhile the cost to society for health care and lost productivity was HK$ 5.366 billion.

Adding the cost of lives lost attributable to tobacco related diseases the annual cost to Hong Kong society is HK$ 73.32 billion of which HK$ 16.86 billion is attributable to the costs of passive smoking.

To save lives and health care costs the Administration mandates selt belts in vehicles, crash helmts for motorcyles and scooters, safety boots , harnesses and helmets for construction sites and non smoking workplaces for our protection.

Tobacco Excise duty : Year 2007 sales in ()


For each 1 000 cigarettes

HK$804 (3495.73 million)



HK$1035/kg (20,254 kg)


Chinese prepared tobacco

HK$197/kg (4,014 kg)


All other manufactured tobacco except tobacco intended for the manufacture of cigarettes

HK$974  (1,818 kg)

Excise Tax received (HK$)

a) 2,810,566,920

b) 20,962,890

c) 790,758

d) 1,770,732

Total excise duty received in 2007 by HK Government

HK$ 2,834,091,300

Tobacco Control 2006;15:125-130; doi:10.1136/tc.2005.013292
Copyright © 2006 by the BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.


Anti-Smoking Advocate Is Named to Health Post

January 14, 2009 – By ROBERT PEAR – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama said Tuesday that he had chosen the head of a leading anti-tobacco organization to be the No. 2 official at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The prospective nominee, William V. Corr, is executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a nonprofit group that seeks to reduce tobacco use among children and adults.

As a member of the Obama transition team, Mr. Corr has led efforts to review and evaluate the work of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Mr. Obama has selected Tom Daschle, a former Senate Democratic leader, to be secretary of health and human services. If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Corr would be the deputy secretary. From 1998 to 2000, Mr. Corr worked as chief counsel and policy director for Mr. Daschle, when Mr. Daschle was minority leader.

The new Congress is expected to move aggressively against the tobacco industry, by increasing federal regulation of cigarettes, raising taxes on tobacco products and approving an international tobacco control treaty.

As a senator, Mr. Obama, an intermittent smoker, was a co-sponsor of a bill that would have given the Food and Drug Administration broad authority to regulate “the manufacture, marketing, and distribution” of tobacco products, including cigarettes.

On its Web site, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says its goals are “to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from secondhand smoke.”

In reports filed with Congress, the campaign has listed Mr. Corr as a lobbyist and said it lobbied not only Congress, but also federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Trade Commission.

The anti-tobacco group reported lobbying expenses that totaled $2.4 million from 2003 to 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group that tracks the influence of money on politics and government policy.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama often criticized the influence of lobbyists in Washington. But some of his strongest allies here have worked as lobbyists for consumer groups, labor unions, environmental groups and civil rights organizations.

In the Clinton administration, Mr. Corr was chief of staff at the Department of Health and Human Services, where he worked for Secretary Donna E. Shalala.

Before joining Mr. Daschle’s staff, Mr. Corr worked for two liberal Democrats known as tenacious investigators and consumer advocates: Senator Howard M. Metzenbaum of Ohio, who was chairman of the antitrust subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, and Representative Henry A. Waxman of California, who was chairman of the health subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Mr. Waxman was the chief sponsor of a bill passed overwhelmingly by the House last year that would have empowered the F.D.A. to regulate tobacco products. The Senate did not act on the measure.

As chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the new Congress, Mr. Waxman will play a major role in efforts to provide coverage to the 46 million people who have no health insurance.

Before coming to Washington, Mr. Corr worked at several community-run primary health care centers in Appalachia. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a law degree from Vanderbilt University.

“Reforming our health care system will be a top priority of my administration and key to putting our economy back on track,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday. “Under the leadership of Tom Daschle and Bill Corr, I am confident that my Department of Health and Human Services will bring people together to reach consensus on how to move forward with health care reform.”

Should The Smoking Ban Be Delayed?

Jan 14, 2009 – SCMP

I refer to the letter by P.A. Crush (Talkback, January 10).

Your correspondent said: “Smokers are not `compelled’ by their addiction to continue smoking as Clear the Air suggests.”

Why is it then that so many people try to quit, but cannot. Throwing in a recent statistic, why is it that a smoker needs to try to give up smoking 10 times before managing to quit? Smoking is clearly an addiction, much like crack cocaine, which has in fact been said to be easier to give up than smoking.

In terms of your correspondent’s reference to polluting vehicles on the road, most private vehicles do not run on diesel fuel and therefore do not spew out particulate matter (PM-2.5), which can travel directly into our lungs when we breathe, much like tobacco smoke or the smoke that escapes from coal-fired power plants.

This pollution from buses and goods trucks is therefore the most harmful to public health and should be targeted first, before private vehicles, especially given the high number of buses concentrated around the most (roadside) polluted areas.

Besides that, Hong Kong has become the dumping ground for vehicles from Japan, South Korea and elsewhere due to the fact that the Hong Kong government has not enforced any emission standards on diesel vehicles, of which many have exceeded their normal operating lifespan.

Rather than offering a subsidy to convert or replace the 49,161 pre-Euro and 25,206 Euro I diesel vehicles (which will create 74 per cent and 38 per cent less vehicle emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxides) to stricter emission standards, the government should set a deadline for these to be implemented and, if they are not, fines or emission taxes should be promptly put in place.

Michael Pieper, Discovery Bay