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March 18th, 2010:

Seminar on Tobacco Control

seminar on tobacco control

Source: Tobacco Control Office, Department of Health

Smoking is the major preventable cause of death in Hong Kong. The Department of Health (DH) is committed in building a smoke-free culture in Hong Kong through multi-pronged approach and community mobilisation. As part of the tobacco control programme, we invited eminent international experts on tobacco control and cessation services to give presentations in the Seminar on Tobacco Control on 3 February 2010.

The event proceedings, videos and photographs are available at the source.


Letters to the Editor


Source: South China Morning Post

Below are some letters to the editor printed on the South China Morning Post:

Honest businesses are losing out over ban
Updated on Mar 14, 2010

I refer to the report (“Bars ignoring smoking ban taking our business, other pubs complain”, February 28).

Our restaurant fully complied and extended our no-smoking policy to cover our licensed outdoor seating area, a decision we may need to reverse if we are to stay competitive against unlicensed outlets.

Some entrepreneurs have come up with ways to not only beat the no-smoking ban, but to also deceive the licensing authority, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department. Licence conditions comprise a list, such as fire and building certification, water pollution control, the Employee Compensation Ordinance and the Mandatory Provident Fund.

There must be food-and-hygiene-appointed assistants and a licensee or a nominee must be on the premises at all times.

These are legally binding responsibilities and it costs money to meet all the conditions.

What is the point of all this costly legally binding certification if someone can open a provisions or clothing store, serve alcohol and evade the relevant department ordinance?

These outlets have no licensing obligations. Customers can smoke, create a noise nuisance and obstruct a public footpath.

Government departments and their agencies do nothing about these businesses, just make excuses. Licensed outlets are struggling because the government is failing to crack down on businesses which flout the regulations.

A. W. D. Ismail, Lantau


Comment: Your freedom ends where my nose begins


First published: March 12, 2010

Source: Now Lebanon

Tobacco kills, regardless of boundaries set by either man or nature. Every year more than 5 million people lose their lives because of tobacco, and of these 3,500 live in Lebanon.

In an editorial published in NOW Lebanon last week, Michael Young considered Lebanon’s possible adoption of a public smoking ban “a terrible idea” just because it arrives from abroad. That smoking bans save lives is a fact supported by unequivocal scientific evidence, and it is a “terrible idea” that is endorsed by 168 countries, including Lebanon, representing more than 86% of the world’s population.


Higher tax will reduce Vietnam tobacco deaths: WHO

Vietnamese smoking

First published: March 12, 2010

Source: Viet News Online

A 20 percent increase in tobacco tax may cause 100,000 fewer tobacco-related deaths in Vietnam in the next 40 years, the World Heath Organization (WHO) revealed at a conference in Hanoi Tuesday.

Taxes should make up 66-80 percent of retail price to effectively reduce the smoking rate, the UN agency said.

If Vietnam raises the taxes to 65 percent from the current 45 percent, tobacco retail prices will rise by 10 percent, not only pricing it beyond the reach of many people but also bringing up to VND2 trillion (US$105 million) in revenues to the government.


Should Hong Kong remove all the ashtrays? Clear The Air comments

coughing ashtray

It is abundantly clear that the deliberately flawed laws are not working here in Hong Kong.

The onus to keep indoor work places clear of smokers HAS to be placed on the premises managers and licensees.

The Tobacco Control Office is deliberately hopelessly understaffed.

Macau has 70 officers for 544,000 population + tourists whilst HK has just 99 officers for 7 million + 2.5 million tourists per month.

There are 11,000 restaurants and more than 5,000 liquor licensed premises plus mahjong , bath houses, saunas, upstairs premises, bus stations etc to cover.

The number of smoking fixed penalty tickets issued to date is pitiful despite allowing other Government departments (who have no interest in doing so) to issue tickets.  We proposed in Legco 18 months ago to have an Auxiliary group similar to the Auxiliary police to expand the enforcement capability.

The press has been full of complaints from law abiding premises who are losing out on the uneven playing field to premises which ignore the law – actually the premises do not ignore the law since there is no law obliging them to enforce the anti smoking laws. This is an absolute joke. All overseas jurisdictions place the onus on premises’ owners and enforce fines then loss of licence to trade for repeat offences. The big stick works.


Do higher cigarette prices deter smoking? Evidence from developing nations

higher cigarette pricesFirst published: March 12, 2010


Deliana Kostova Hana Ross Evan Blecher Sara Markowitz

Do higher cigarette prices deter smoking? This column finds that policymakers in developing countries could reduce cigarette consumption by youths by raising taxes. A 10% increase in the price will reduce youth cigarette demand by 18.3%.

Reducing tobacco use has been an important issue for policymakers ever since the US Surgeon General’s 1964 report on the adverse health effects of tobacco. Tobacco is now established as a leading cause of preventable death worldwide and is expected to claim nearly a billion lives in the 21st century (WHO 2008).

Youth smoking in developing nations

The majority of the tobacco public health burden will be carried by developing countries, due to the unfortunate combination of increasing consumption and health system inadequacy. Of particular concern in developing countries is youth smoking, which can start at very young age and is the primary way of establishing adult smoking habits.

Although tobacco use is a major public health problem in lower-income countries, most of the evidence on what determines smoking comes from a few industrialised countries, primarily the US. There is a wealth of research on the impact of US cigarette prices or taxes, most of which agrees that taxes/prices can be used effectively to influence smoking decisions.


Get tough on cigarette sales

kid smoking

Last updated: March 13, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

Although it is illegal to sell cigarettes to minors, some stores are flouting the law.

Store owners argue that it can often be difficult to work out whether or not a customer is under age from their appearance. Therefore, the Tobacco Control Office should issue a directive saying that shopkeepers should be allowed to demand to see customers’ identity cards if they want to buy cigarettes.

This could curb the trend of minors being able to buy tobacco in stores. Also, the penalties for people who intentionally sell to minors are too lenient. We need tougher laws and punishments.


Exposure to smoking in movies among British adolescents 2001-2006

Cruella de Vil

First published: March 2, 2010

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information

Anderson SJ, Millett C, Polansky JR, Glantz SA.

Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.

Objective To estimate youth exposure to smoking in movies in the UK and compare the likely effect with the USA. Methods We collected tobacco occurrences data for 572 top-grossing films in the UK screened from 2001 to 2006 and estimated the number of on-screen tobacco impressions delivered to British youths in this time period. Results 91% of films in our sample that contained smoking were youth-rated films (British Board of Film Classification rating ’15’ and lower), delivering at least 1.10 billion tobacco impressions to British youths during theatrical release. British youths were exposed to 28% more smoking impressions in UK youth-rated movies than American youth-rated movies, because 79% of movies rated for adults in the USA (‘R’) are classified as suitable for youths in the UK (’15’ or ’12A’). Conclusion Because there is a dose-response relation between the amount of on-screen exposure to smoking and the likelihood that adolescents will begin smoking, the fact that there is substantially higher exposure to smoking in youth-rated films in the UK than in the USA suggests that the fraction of all youth smoking because of films in the UK is probably larger than in the USA. Other countries with ratings systems that are less conservative (in terms of language and sexuality) than the USA will also be likely to deliver more on-screen tobacco impressions to youths. Assigning an ’18’ classification to movies that contain smoking would substantially reduce youth exposure to on-screen smoking and, hence, smoking initiation among British youths.


High time for the nation to enforce the law

chinese woman smokingLast updated: March 11, 2010

Source: China Daily

My friends and I celebrated International Women’s Day on Monday by going to dinner at a restaurant near our office. While we were still looking at the menu, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by cigarette smoke. More than a dozen men had just taken their seats at nearby tables and immediately lit up.

We abandoned our table by the window for another, but were soon assaulted by smoke from a nearby table. Looking around, I didn’t see a single “No Smoking” sign in the restaurant, nor was there any division between smoking and non-smoking areas.

I knew there was no point in raising the matter with the restaurant’s owner. I remember having lunch in the non-smoking section of another restaurant, where several customers were nonetheless smoking. The smokers refused to put out their cigarettes even when an attendant asked them to.