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Smoking Ban Opportunity Missed

Smoking ban ‘bungled quit goal’

Anita Lam
Updated on Dec 11, 2007

The government missed a golden opportunity to help smokers quit when the smoking ban was introduced almost a year ago, campaigners say.

The comments yesterday followed a poll that found that since the smoking ban was imposed on January 1, nearly one in seven smokers had little idea of what could help them quit apart from will-power.

Some 43.8 per cent said air quality was better and 37.1 per cent said the ban had cut involuntary inhalation of second-hand smoke.

But 72.2 per cent of non-smokers said promotion of cessation services was inadequate and free anti-smoking drugs should be offered.

The Alliance for Patients’ Mutual Help Organisations and Quit-Winners Club interviewed 1,004 people.

Homer Tso Wei-kwok, chairman of the Council on Smoking and Health, said the government had missed the best chance to convert smokers. “For many smokers, the will to quit is momentary.”

He said finance was also an obstacle, with a complete course of nicotine chewing gums and patches costing up to HK$3,000.

Health Department clinics offer free anti-smoking drugs to people on the dole, but only samples or limited doses are provided to others.

Lo Wing-lok, chairman of People’s Health Action, said authorities should at least subsidise medication for the poor, and heavy smokers.

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