In order to further achieve a smoke-free Hong Kong, the government launched the "Active, Healthy and Smoke-Free Hong Kong" public consultation on tobacco control strategies in July this year, proposing four major tobacco control strategies, including: "managing supply, reducing demand", "banning publicity and reducing inducements", "expanding restricted areas, avoiding tobacco harm", and "emphasizing education and helping to quit smoking". The Hong Kong Smoking and Health Commission (the Committee) welcomes the Government's listening to the views of the public and advocates for strengthening tobacco control measures in all aspects, including expanding the statutory no-smoking areas, substantially increasing tobacco taxes, banning flavored tobacco products, and implementing full tobacco hazard warning packaging, etc., to build a smoke-free Hong Kong for the next generation.
The Secretary for Health, Mr Lo Phong Mau (left), and the Chairman of the Hong Kong Smoking and Health Committee, Mr Tong Sau-kei, called for public consultation on tobacco control strategies. Tong believes that public consultation can build social consensus and advocate for more tobacco control policies to protect public health.
Tong Sau-kei, chairman of the Hong Kong Smoking and Health Committee, said that due to the impact of second-hand smoke, in addition to increasing tobacco taxes and implementing full tobacco hazard warning packaging, it is also very important to expand the statutory non-smoking zone. We advocate that all community facilities, such as community centres, youth centres, homes for the elderly, etc., be made non-smoking beyond 10 metres. Macau passed legislation in 2018 to make all bus stops 10 metres non-smoking, and we hope Hong Kong will do the same."
Tobacco taxes are the most effective tobacco control measure
Smoking is the second largest risk factor for the global burden of disease. Smoking kills nearly 7,000 people in Hong Kong every year, of which about 700 are caused by inhalation of secondhand smoke. According to 2020 figures, lung cancer has the highest incidence and death among different cancers in Hong Kong. The study also mentioned that about 80% of lung cancer deaths are related to smoking, and clinical studies have found that 10 out of every 9 lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), increasing tobacco taxes to raise tobacco prices is the single most effective tobacco control measure. A 10% increase in tobacco prices reduces overall tobacco consumption in high-income areas by 4%. Hong Kong's tobacco tax has been frozen for eight consecutive years since 2015, and only this year has the tobacco tax per cigarette increased by 6 millimeters, or about 31.5%, but the proportion of tobacco tax to the retail price of tobacco is still far below the WHO recommended level (75% or more). The Committee recommends a substantial increase in tobacco taxes in the coming year to bring tobacco taxes up to the 75% target recommended by the World Health Organization, and an additional tobacco tax on inflation every year thereafter to sustain the affordability of tobacco products and maintain the effectiveness of promoting smoking cessation.
The Hong Kong Smoking and Health Committee (HKHAC) organised the "You" Smoke-Free Hong Kong publicity campaign earlier, in which guests called on the public to actively express their views on tobacco control strategies.
Promote the prohibition of smoking while walking to reduce the scourge of second-hand smoke
While it is important to promote smoking cessation and prevent smoking, it is also urgent to protect non-smokers from tobacco harm and reduce the public health and medical burden. According to the Tobacco Control Policy Survey 2021, nearly 60% of respondents reported exposure to secondhand smoke in the past seven days. Public support for the expansion of non-smoking areas is strong, with over 2019% of respondents supporting the introduction of smoking bans in all outdoor public places. A survey conducted by the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong in 2020-61 also found that 3.42% of primary school students had been exposed to second-hand smoke in the past seven days, with 3.48% at home and 0.<>% exposed to second-hand smoke outside the home respectively. The results reflect the need for the Government to further expand the statutory no-smoking areas to protect non-smokers.
In the past, the EOC has received many complaints from members of the public about eating tobacco while walking, and members of the public are exposed to second-hand smoke on footbridges and busy streets. The EOC recommends that the statutory smoking ban be extended to places with high crowds or prolonged exposure and where second-hand smoke is difficult to avoid, such as pedestrian bridges, public transport waiting areas, pedestrian crossings and building entrances and exits, as well as designated areas near public or community facilities such as schools and hospitals frequented by the public. At the same time, it is forbidden to smoke while walking.
Members of the public actively expressed their views at the activities organised by the Committee.
Ban flavored tobacco products to protect the health of the next generation
Tobacconians add flavourings such as mint and fruit flavours to tobacco products to improve the palatability of tobacco products and make young people and women more susceptible to tobacco addiction. According to the latest report of the Census and Statistics Department, nearly 60% of young smokers and women aged 20-29 in Hong Kong smoked flavored cigarettes for the first time, while nearly 60% of young smokers and 70% of women smoked cigarettes are currently using flavored cigarettes.
The Committee recommends that the Government promptly ban the addition of any flavour, any additives (e.g. to reduce the added ingredients of tobacco throat) and other additive accessories to tobacco products to safeguard the health of the next generation.
The Secretary for Health, Professor Lo Pharm Mok, shared his vision for tobacco control with student representatives from St. Jering's Girls' Secondary School, the winning team of the Smoke-free Teens Elite Programme.
Full Tobacco Hazard Warning Packaging Eliminate alternative tobacco promotion
Since the introduction of tobacco hazard image warnings in Hong Kong in 2007, it has gradually been strengthened, and the area of cigarette pack warning images has increased to 85% now. Australia became the first country to introduce full tobacco hazard warning packaging in December 2012, and research confirmed that measures can prevent the use of cigarette packs for publicity, enhance education and warning about the scourge of smoking, reduce the attractiveness and satisfaction of tobacco products, and enhance smokers' desire to quit. At present, 12% of the area of cigarette packs in Hong Kong is covered by cigarette pack warning images, and the EOC recommends that the Government adopt full smoke hazard warning packaging and implement rotational rotation or regular updating of warning images to maintain the effectiveness of image warnings.
Over the past few months, the EOC has organised publicity and advocacy activities to encourage public support for the public consultation, including the earlier "You Want a Tobacco-Free Hong Kong" publicity campaign, which was attended by government officials, members of the Legislative Council, academia, the healthcare sector, the education sector, home-school co-operation and community organisations, as well as representatives of smoking cessation service organisations. Officiating guests included the Secretary for Health, Professor Lo Phong Mok, the Director of Regulatory Affairs of the Department of Health, Dr Chiu Pui-yan, the Director of Strategic Development of the Hospital Authority, Dr Cheng Wai-kuen, and the Chairman of the Hong Kong Smoking and Health Committee, Mr Tong Shui-chi. Lo said that although the current smoking rate in Hong Kong has dropped to 9.5%, there are still nearly 60,2025 smokers, and he hopes to reduce the smoking rate to 7.8% by <> to create a smoke-free Hong Kong. Committee Chairman Tong Sau Kei said that the Government and the public were determined to strengthen tobacco control policies from the public consultation on tobacco control, and the Committee continued to advocate more measures to strengthen tobacco control measures to achieve the goal of a smoke-free Hong Kong as soon as possible.
In order to promote smoking cessation and prevent the next generation from starting smoking, protect public health, and eliminate the heavy health loss and economic burden caused by tobacco to the society, please seize the opportunity to reflect your views on strengthening tobacco control, and support the initiative of the Hong Kong Smoking and Health Committee.
Public consultation on "Active and Healthy Smoke-Free Hong Kong" tobacco control strategies
Support for the Committee initiative: http://smokefree.hk/future
(Information and photos provided by the customer)