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Make HK a non-smoking territory

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Submitted by admin on Jan 15th 2013, 12:00am



Howard Winn

Make HK a non-smoking territory

Chief Executive C.Y. Leung has been urged to take a tough line with tobacco control measures in his policy address tomorrow. The letter is signed by senior public health academics from HKU and Chinese University, well-known anti-smoking lobbyist Judith Mackay, the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health and Clear the Air. The signatories ask for measures to reduce smoking prevalence in Hong Kong to 5 per cent before 2022 compared with the current 11 per cent. Hong Kong would then be recognised as a non-smoking territory by the World Health Organisation. The signatories argue this will require raising excise tax to at least 80 per cent of the retail price, which they say is proven to prevent youth smoking while reducing adult smoking, premature deaths and health care costs. In addition, the government should provide more assistance for those that want to quit. The letter points out that cigarettes are considerably cheaper in Hong Kong than in many other territories, including Singapore, Britain, New York, Australia and France. They also want tougher steps taken against smuggling and the sale of duty-free cigarettes. The signatories suggest all public areas should be tobacco-free, including the entire outdoor areas of restaurants and pubs, whether 50 per cent roofed or otherwise. They also recommend that preventing smoking should be a condition of liquor licences. They note that at present many licensees allow or encourage smoking in order to steal custom from premises that obey the law.

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