Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

Chow stubs out hope of smokes tax U-turn

HK Standard — 30 May 2011

Health chief York Chow Yat-ngok says there will be no reversal of the tobacco tax despite protests by interest groups.

While Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun- wah has made some concessions over his budget proposals, Chow said a 41.5 percent tax on tobacco that took effect on February 23 will stay.

Instead, he said, he will try to get the support of lawmakers to enhance services aimed at helping smokers quit.

Chow was speaking after receiving a Director- General’s Special Recognition Award from Shin Young Soo, World Health Organization regional director for the Western Pacific.

The award honored the efforts of the secretary for food and health to curb smoking in the SAR and to mark World No Tobacco Day tomorrow.

“The local smoking population dropped to 12 percent last year, compared with 23 percent 20 years ago. Our recent study reveals over 60 percent of people back the tax hike and more than 20 percent say the tax is not high enough,” Chow said.

The tax hike aims to deter young people from smoking, he said.

“We hope to let them know the impact of smoking. Also, people may smoke less or even kick the habit. We have also strengthened our free smoking cessation services.”

The government raised expenditure on cessation services from about HK$10 million to more than HK$30 million this year, Chow said.

Meanwhile, pressure groups I Smoke Alliance, Momentum 107 and The Coalition of Hong Kong Newspaper and Magazine Merchants have called for the tax hike to be scrapped.

About 20 protesters carried slogans printed with “Taxpayers Remember, You Will Pay” outside The Mira, Tsim Sha Tsui, where the WHO award presentation was carried out, urging Chow to get an award for promoting contraband cigarettes.

Coalition chairman Liu Sair-ching said the sales revenue of newspaper vendors has fallen by 30 to 40 percent. “Some clients tell us they have to go for the contraband cigarettes since they can’t afford expensive ones with the tax hike,” Liu said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>