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Protect The Health of Our Citizens

SCMP – 20/01/2008

The SAR administration’s persistent failure to protect the health of our citizens is shown by the steady rise in cigarette consumption.

Increased consumption of any product is obviously associated with a lower relative price and low tariff.

The financial secretary must be aware of this reality but has chosen to disregard it. In effect, he is giving foreign tobacco hawkers a windfall profit each year. If our non-elected bureaucrats are really concerned about the health of the citizens of Hong Kong, they have to move quickly in the following directions:

  • Much higher duties must be imposed on cigarette imports in the next budget and smugglers of tobacco should receive more severe penalties when they appear in court.
  • A cap on imports must now be imposed with an annual reduction of 4 per cent. This would mean phasing out all imports of carcinogenic products in 25 years.

This will allow time for hapless tobacco addicts to die out or to hopefully give up their addiction to tobacco.

  • Public hospitals must charge victims of tobacco-related diseases higher medical fees.

Why should wise taxpayers be forced to subsidise foolish smokers or enrich foreign tobacco barons?

  • Foreign tobacco executives should be banned from working in Hong Kong and a higher profits tax should be imposed on their companies.
  • Legislation should designate the sale and promotion of tobacco as commercial genocide since it kills millions of people who were duped into believing that it was harmless.

The above measures may seem harsh, even draconian to some. However, this is only because they have become numb to the suffering and death caused by foreign tobacco imports – a toll of more than 4,000 deaths in Hong Kong per year.

Isn’t it time to stop? Or do SAR government officials prefer to enrich foreign tobacco executives rather than help our young people to avoid addiction?

J. Garner, Sham Shui Po

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