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Lowest smoking rate since records began

South China Morning Post – 25 August 2011

Hong Kong’s fight against tobacco reached a milestone, as the city saw its lowest smoking rate since records began 30 years ago.

Only 11.1 per cent of people aged 15 or older were daily smokers last year – down from 12 per cent in 2009 and 11.8 in 2008. Some 19.9 per cent of men smoked, the first time the rate had gone below 20 per cent, said Dr Raymond Ho Lei-ming, Tobacco Control Office head. The rate among women was 3 per cent.

“We are one step closer to having a single-digit smoking rate,” he said.

The city’s latest smoking rate is one of the world’s lowest.

In Asia-Pacific, the next best rate is in Singapore, where 14 per cent of people smoke.

Hong Kong’s figures were released yesterday as a part of the Census and Statistics Department’s “thematic household survey”, conducted from October to December last year.

But teenage smoking increased, with 2.5 per cent of those aged 15 to 19 smoking every day, up from 1.8 per cent the previous year.

Ho said that as the household survey was done before the latest tobacco tax increase of 41.5 per cent in February, it could not be taken as suggesting the tax rise had failed to curb young smokers. “If we view the general trend in the past decade, teenage smoking is slowing – from 4.5 per cent in 2000 to 2.4 in 2008,” he said. The office would put more focus on helping the young to quit, he said.

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