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A Victory For Public Health

Mar 02, 2009 – SCMP

While much of the government’s attention is understandably taken up with the complexities of the global financial crisis it is to be congratulated for not ignoring the public’s health in Wednesday’s budget.

The increase of 50 per cent in tobacco tax is a very welcome and long overdue step. We know from international evidence that this tax increase will decrease the misery of smoking-related diseases not only among smokers, but also those exposed to their second-hand smoke, particularly children.

Coupled with a commitment to strengthening support for those who wish to stop smoking, this is a major step forward for public health in Hong Kong.

The additional resources to develop primary care, especially in poorly served geographical areas, and to implement programmes, such as pneumococcal vaccination for children, are also welcome as is the continued support for moving forward on e-health records.

These initiatives provide the opportunity to focus more on prevention and community-based care, moving forward on the health-care-reform commitments to improve primary care.

These must be steps in the right direction.

Sian Griffiths, director, school of public health, Chinese University of Hong Kong

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