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Tobacco Tax As Health Care

SCMP – Updated on Feb 16, 2009

Last year, the government failed to raise tobacco taxes for the eighth year in a row. The budget speech is fast approaching and failure to raise taxes would be in direct contravention of World Health Organisation standards and guidelines on tobacco pricing. If this administration cares about public health, failure to increase taxes on an annual basis will be blatant disregard of its moral obligations as a government. There is a direct correlation with increased taxes and a decreased numbers of smokers.

If the government tries to hide behind the “economic” situation as a reason for not raising taxes this year, it will undermine any credibility it has in regard to public health issues.

Not raising taxes in a significant manner, to catch up with eight years of lost revenue to the health system of Hong Kong and increased health costs due to increased smoking, should be seen as a crime.

If the claim is that it cannot be done due to the economy then that would mean the promotion of the myth that tobacco can help people “feel better” in tough economic times.

Hong Kong will be laughed at on a global scale if this is the case.

I look forward to a sharp increase in taxes that will bring us to comparable WHO world levels and will raise needed money for other increasing urgent air pollution-related health problems.

Doug Woodring, Mid-Levels

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