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High Tax Rise Will Not Work

Updated on Feb 25, 2009 – SCMP

I agree that increasing the tax on tobacco can curb youth smoking.

This claim has been made by the World Health Organisation and the World Bank.

However, I do wonder why the Committee on Youth Smoking Prevention has proposed exactly doubling the tax (“Call for doubling of tobacco tax to stop young lighting up”, February 18). Of course, if the increase in tax is too small, it will not act as an effective deterrent. Likewise, if it was too high an increase, it might be counter-productive.

High prices will undoubtedly discourage young people from buying cigarettes on which duty is paid. Instead, they might be tempted to buy cheaper, illegal cigarettes smuggled from the mainland. This will only help the triads, while poor cigarettes will only pose an ever greater health risk. More research is needed before deciding by how much to raise the tax.

Wong Pui-lam, Kwun Tong

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