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50% Tobacco Tax Increase

Media Release

Clear the Air (CTA), together with the Department of Community Medicine, University of Hong Kong (HKU) and Dr Judith Mackay of the World Lung Foundation (WLF) have actively lobbied the Department of Health, the Panel on Health Services, the Food and Health Bureau, Legco members, the Financial Secretary and the local media to show that Hong Kong Government’s anti smoking measures were seriously lacking and in breach of the requirements of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty. There has been no tobacco tax increase in Hong Kong for 8 long years since early 2001.

Recently the South China Morning Post published information on their front page provided by us demonstrating that the number of legal tobacco products consumed in 2008 was 13.8% more than consumed here in pre – smoking ban 2006. In the past week ATV World’s ‘Inside Story’ program aired a well timed documentary in which Clear the Air , HKU and WLF figured prominently; all the above strategies, combined with nonstop up to date worldwide anti-tobacco information provided to the Secretary of Health , the Food and Health Bureau and Legco members has now resulted in a significant step forward by the local SAR Administration which hopefully sets an example to Mainland China. In addition, the Secretary of Health Dr. York Chow and the Food and Health Bureau have demonstrated to the Administration the importance of increased taxation as an important healthcare measure and they have refused to compromise on this important matter.

50% Tobacco Tax Increase – 烟草税增加50%

The Financial Secretary today announced that the excise duty on tobacco products will be immediately increased by 50% to HK$ 24 per pack above the current levels of just over HK$ 16 per pack.

Whilst we have sought a 100% tax increase, Clear the Air estimates that the new increased tax will hopefully:

– Reduce current adult smoking significantly

– Reduce current youth smoking by a significant amount and prevent our non smoking youth starting their addiction due to peer pressure

The Hong Kong Administration must now capitalize on this tax increase and move towards making Hong Kong the world’s leading non smoking territory.



– 令成年烟民的數目明顯減少

– 令青少年烟民的數目明顯減少,從而防止青少年因受朋輩壓力去開始吸烟


Further Government action is needed

The tobacco taxation level must continue to increase year by year in line with FCTC requirements.

Smoking bans must be extended at all restaurant and bar premises to include the Outside Seating Accommodation and patio areas.

Smoking must be banned near airport and ferry entrance and exit doors, within 20 meters of restaurants, bars , building and office entrances , in vehicles carrying children and in all transport interchanges whether open air or enclosed.

The Tobacco Control Office staff needs to be doubled in order to enforce the new fixed penalty smoking offence scheme efficiently.

The Government must also legislate the excise taxation to be a percentage not less than 80% of final retail cost to prevent tobacco companies reducing prices to offset the increased taxation.

This new excise taxation level is reasonably expected to earn approximately HK$ 4.6 billion duties in the coming financial year but this will still trail Government’s healthcare current spending on tobacco related illnesses and lack of productivity by HK$ 0.8 billion ; this is unacceptable since the health damage due to smoking is totally preventable by fiscal means, especially to prevent youth from starting smoking and health damage by passive smoking.

The Government must now consider legal action against the tobacco companies as has happened successfully overseas, to recoup the immense costs incurred on the local healthcare system by these consumer products.

Tobacco products are the only ‘legal’ consumer products which kill their users when operated as directed by the product manufacturers.

Text of the Budget speech on Tobacco Tax:

Medical and Health

108. Separately, for public health reasons, I propose to increase tobacco duty by 50 per cent with immediate effect. The duty on cigarettes will increase from around $0.8 to about $1.2 per stick. We will also continue to step up our efforts on smoking cessation, as well as on publicity and enforcement in tobacco control.

Non competing Interests :

None of the above bodies nor individuals (CTA, HKU, WLF) has any links whatsoever to the Tobacco Industry unlike statements which recently appeared in the press from the Committee on Youth Smoking Prevention. For those people who are not aware of the history or tobacco company funding of this organization please refer to the Council on Smoking and Health website:


Clear the Air is a registered charity based in Hong Kong with the aims of improving the overall air quality in the Territory. For further information on this press release please contact :

Mr Michael Pieper, Communications Director Clear the Air Hong Kong

Professor Anthony Hedley , Department of Community Medicine University of Hong Kong

Professor Judith Mackay , World Lung Foundation

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