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SCMP Letters: Tax rise could help young smokers quit

Letter from Heidi Lau, executive director of LEAP, to the SCMP:

The government should consider further increasing tobacco tax to help prevent young people picking up the habit of smoking and motivate more young smokers to quit.

It was reported that 30 per cent of the young smokers who used the Youth Quitline hotline service of the University of Hong Kong cited saving money as the reason for quitting (“University of Hong Kong introduces WhatsApp service to help young smokers quit”, January 7).

The percentage could certainly have been higher if the tobacco tax had been raised to make cigarettes even more unaffordable for young people.

Tobacco, along with alcohol and cannabis, has long been considered a “gateway drug”.

As an organisation that provides preventive drug education to prevent substance abuse, Life Education Activity Programme (LEAP) is convinced that increasing tobacco tax could be an effective way to reduce children’s access to this gateway drug – hence helping to prevent childhood use of cigarettes and the subsequent use of more potent drugs.

Raising tobacco tax further will also help the government to demonstrate its strong determination to build a smoke-free society.

10 Jan 2014

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