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Two-pronged quit-smoking plan to launch

acupunctureLast updated: March 29, 2010

Source: South China Morning Post

Nicotine patches will no longer be the main treatment option for smokers wanting to quit, with a pilot scheme offering traditional Chinese medicine.

From Thursday, 10 vans will stop at 48 locations in the city, providing free consultations.

The scheme, a collaboration between the Department of Health and Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long, will start in Olympian City and last a year. A recruitment hotline will also be launched the same day.

Hong Kong would be the first place in the world to provide quit smoking counsellors who are also traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, Tobacco Control Office head Dr Ronald Lam Man-kin said.

“The use of acupuncture and Chinese medicine in smoking cessation is proven in international literature, but we are trying to see if our herbalists can offer more.”

A number of herbalists completed counselling training in Hong Kong organised by the Mayo Clinic of the United States in February, he said.

Acupuncture can ease the pain of withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and a short temper, Lam said.

Mainland herbalists from the Ministry of Health helped design the treatment protocol, he said.

Meanwhile, the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals will set up its fifth quit smoking centre in Wan Chai after receiving an extra HK$5 million from the government’s budget this year.

The group operates four centres. Among the more than 700 smokers who joined the group’s quit smoking scheme, more than 40 per cent successfully kicked the habit within six months, Lam said. This success rate was much higher compared with the international average of about 20 to 30 per cent, he said.

Written by Ng Yuk-hang

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