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Cut In Tobacco Tax Would Be Death Warrant For Young People

Updated on Jan 29, 2008 – scmp

Philip Bowring (“Sharing the spoils”, January 23) advocates a cut in tobacco tax, “another impost that most hurts lower-income earners who are generally more frequent smokers”. Does Bowring realise cutting tax will sign the death warrants of our youth? The tax on tobacco, which has not increased here since 1999, should be tripled immediately. This will save lives.

An excise tax increase is proven worldwide to be the most effective fiscal health care method of preventing youth tobacco use. It lowers the levels of adult smoking significantly.

The New York tax on a packet of cigarettes, is HK$28, in Britain it is HK$62, in Hong Kong HK$16.

Hong Kong, as an SAR of China, is bound to comply with the directive of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which mandates signatories increase tobacco taxes forthwith and regularly. Ratified signatories must acknowledge FCTC is grounded in fundamental human rights. Guidelines should affirm the right to effective protection from exposure to tobacco smoke is implicit in the fundamental right of all persons to life, a healthy environment and enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. To underscore effective protection of health requires the creation of 100 per cent smoke-free environments. Providing just ventilation and designated smoking rooms is not acceptable.

This duty of care to protect against this epidemic is implicit in the right to life recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the fundamental right of all persons to enjoy the highest attainable health standard as recognised in the Constitution of the World Health Organisation, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other international legal instruments. Parties’ obligations to protect their citizens from exposure to tobacco smoke flow from the citizens’ universal rights as recognised in numerous other international instruments.

Clear the Air urges any parent who cares for the welfare of their children to e-mail the financial secretary at urging him to adopt a stringent increase on tobacco tax.

James Middleton, Clear the Air

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