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Call For Doubling Of Tobacco Tax To Stop Young Lighting Up

Daniel Sin, SCMP – Feb 18, 2009

The tax on tobacco should be doubled to curb youth smoking, a community group says.

A study by Chinese University’s Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies released yesterday found that nine out of 10 parents thought urgent action was needed to curb youth Smoking, and almost 85 per cent of the parents said the problem was “serious” or “very serious”.

The Committee on Youth Smoking Prevention, a community group that commissioned the study, recommended the tobacco tax be increased by 100 per cent – from HK$804 per 1,000 sticks to HK$1,608.

Part of the revenue from the tax should be used to finance NGOs, schools and parent groups so they can organise activities to prevent young people from smoking.

Tik Chi-yuen, the committee’s chairman and vice-chairman of the Democratic Party, said that more and more young people had been seen smoking in public places, even outside school premises.

He said that doubling the tax on cigarettes had curbed youth smoking in many countries, and was recommended by the World Health Organisation and the World Bank.

The Council on Smoking and Health, a statutory organisation, carries out public education on the adverse health effects of smoking, but Mr Tik said its resources were already stretched thin on its anti-smoking campaign.

One per cent of the revenue from the increased tobacco tax could provide HK$30 million a year for mobilising the community to combat the problem, he said.

Kenny Tsui Kar-keung, a board member of the Federation of Parent Teacher Associations in the Kwun Tong District, said it was too easy for young people to buy cigarettes. He said the penalty for selling cigarettes to
young people should be raised.

The survey was carried out in November, and feedback from 1,003 parents was collected.

British American Tobacco was not available for comment.

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