Smoking in Hong Kong

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Prevalence of smoking in Hong Kong
The Thematic Household Survey (2010) reported the overall prevalence of active smoking among those aged 15 or above in Hong Kong as 11.1% and the averaged cigarette consumption rate was 13.4 per day (1). This means that there are around 657,000 smokers in Hong Kong and around 8.8 million of cigarettes are consumed daily (1). The number of tobacco-related mortality was estimated to be 6900 deaths per year with an annual community loss of HK$5.3 billion (2). Given the high prevalence of tobacco consumption and the potential health risks related to the use of tobacco, there is no justification for relaxing the current legislation against tobacco. Indeed, there is a pressing need for supplementary legislation of the current smoke-free law as a local study suggested that there is an increased risk of exposure to second hand smoke in young children (3).

Legislation against the use of tobacco
Hong Kong has adopted the provisions of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2005 (4). In dealing with the control of tobacco, the FCTC requires that public health policies should be free from the interference of commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry (5). The reason is that the tobacco industry is well-known for its tactics to undermine public health policies (6). A recent example is that Philip Morris, the world’s biggest tobacco company, sought to access to a university research database on the smoking habits of British teenagers (7) . Hong Kong is bound by the FCTC to reject donations from tobacco company in the setting up of a children foundation and at the same time, it is under a legal obligation to implement the provisions in the FCTC. These include various measures to reduce the supply and demand of tobacco, for example, taxation, banning advertisement, creating smoke-free areas and imposing health warnings on tobacco packages (8).

Among these, tobacco...
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