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May 22nd, 2012:

Letters to Editor

South China Morning Post, Hong Kong May 22, 2012

Simple way to curb law breakers

I refer to the letter by Leigh-Anne Wong (“Bar staff have ashtrays for smokers”, May 17).

The solution to the ongoing lack of compliance of smoking in bars is surprisingly simple. Place the legal onus on the owner/manager, not on the individual smoker.

As the legislation stands, bar owners have no interest in making sure their premises are smoke-free, and some even plant look-outs to alert the establishment if tobacco control officers are seen nearby, so they could warn their customers to put out their cigarettes. But if owners feared losing their licence, the law would become enforced overnight.

Current enforcement of smoke-free restaurants and bars is particularly difficult. Legco could change this at the stroke of a pen.

Dr Judith Mackay, senior adviser, World Lung Foundation

Prof .   J u d i t h   L o n g s t a f f   M a c k a y , O B E , S B S , J P

MBChB, FRCP (Edin), FRCP (Lon)

Senior Advisor

t:  +852.2719.1995 f:  +852.2719.5741

Riftswood, 9th Milestone

DD 229, Lot 147, Clearwater Bay Road

Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR

Get medical help to kick habit, battling smokers urged

HK Standard

Phoebe Man

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Smokers should not rely on themselves but see a doctor if they want to kick the habit.

That’s the advice of Lam Bing, convener of Hong Kong Primary Care Foundation Smoking Cessation Alliance.

There are about 800,000 smokers in the SAR and smoking results in about 19 deaths a day on average, according to the Council on Smoking and Health.

Lam said the main problem when it comes to stopping smoking is that most people do not see the habit as a disease – nicotine addiction.

If they stop, nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and depression set in.

To ease the symptoms, smokers will keep puffing away, fueling their addiction.

“The disadvantages of smoking, such as those horrible pictures printed on packs of cigarettes, have been promoted to smokers for a long time,” Lam said. “Will they quit smoking after looking at those pictures? I don’t think such a strategy still works now.”

He urged smokers to seek medical advice. With the appropriate use of medicine, he believes about 60 to 80 percent of smokers may successfully stop.

If smokers rely just on their willpower, only 5 to to 10 percent may stop, Lam said.

A former smoker from Yuen Long remains skeptical about quitting with the help of a doctor.

He tried three or four times to quit before, using nicotine patches and gums, but failed.

He once spent HK$5,000 on Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking program but that also did not help.

Finally, he quit smoking 18 months ago without help from doctors or medicines, doing so only by willpower.

“If you don’t want to give up, you won’t,” he said.

Lam said varenicline, bupropion and nicotine replacement therapies are mainly used to stop smoking.

Varenicline and bupropion need to be prescribed by doctors. They cost HK$2,000 to HK$3,000, not including doctor’s fees.