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February 6th, 2012:

Hong Kong’s failure to raise tobacco tax will take its toll on city’s youth

South China Morning Post – 7 Feb 2012

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has previously stated correctly in budget speeches that tobacco taxation, which makes tobacco unaffordable, is the most effective preventative health measure to stop youth smoking. The vast majority of nicotine addicts start smoking when they’re in the 10-19 age group.

There was no tobacco tax increase in the 2012 budget despite Hong Kong being legally bound by the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and requests from doctors, NGOs and government health bodies.

Thematic surveys show that in 2009, 383,000 10-19 year olds started smoking; in 2010 the number grew to 383,900. The situation cried out for a realistic preventative tax increase but was ignored by this business-friendly administration.

A pack of the most popular cigarettes costs HK$50 here, a city with one of the highest costs of living in the world. Compare the cost of that same pack in cities where authorities have genuine political will against smoking: Sydney HK$125, New York HK$117, Singapore HK$73 and Paris HK$62.

The WHO’s convention binds 174 parties, including China and the SAR, to specific tobacco control actions but these are repeatedly ignored by our officials.

Our government earned HK$4.384 billion from the tobacco excise tax and fixed-penalty notices last year but how much of this was invested in tobacco control in 2011? A meagre HK$174.8 million (HK$113.3 million for the Tobacco Control Office and the Council on Smoking and Health, HK$42 million for smoking cessation, and HK$19.5 million for the Health Authority’s efforts).

The Health Department has five smoking cessation clinics: four for government staff and only one for the public.

The Tobacco Control Office is woefully understaffed by a factor of at least six; the office has 107 staff covering two shifts for all of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories and the Islands, and can only act on complaints.

This tobacco-friendly government issued flawed legislation with no onus on licensees to prevent smoking in liquor-licensed premises then failed to allocate adequate staff for enforcement. Hong Kong’s male smoking rate is 25 per cent higher than Australia’s. It seems the only political will of the Tsang administration is to keep our youth smoking, keeping the merchants of death in business and showing a flagrant lack of duty of care to Hong Kong’s children.

James Middleton, Clear the Air

Labor targets the Opposition over tobacco donations – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Labor targets the Opposition over tobacco donations

Posted February 06, 2012 06:26:06

The Labor party in Tasmania is stepping up its campaign against the Liberal
party for accepting donations from tobacco companies.

Last week the Australian Electoral Commission released a list of donations
to Tasmania’s political parties, which showed the state Liberals received
about A$38,000 in donations from two big tobacco companies.

Labor’s state secretary, John Dowling says it’s re-released the Liberal
party’s “vision for the future” TV commercial on the internet with a health
warning about tobacco.

“The Liberal party has received tens of thousands of dollars from big
tobacco, they’ve received tens of thousands of dollars from other sources,”
he said.

“They should simply not be taking donations from tobacco companies.”

The Opposition Leader, Will Hodgman, has denied any link between political
donations and policy.

The state director of the Liberal party, Sam McQuestin, is not impressed by
Labor’s altering of the television commercial.

“This is a pathetic attack by Labor demonstrating just how desperate and
panicked they have become,” he said.

“I suggest Labor start focussing more on trying to run the state properly
and less on us.”

Topics:political-parties, tas

Cricket Australia in tobacco ad row

Cricket Australia in tobacco ad row

‎Sydney Morning Herald – 2 hours ago

Cricket Australia is facing fines of up to $66000 for displaying ads in Hindi at the Test cricket series against India that may have been promoting tobacco