International conference tackles tobacco use and challenges of novel smoking products
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Department of Health (DH) and the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) today (December 1) jointly launched a conference entitled "Towards a Tobacco Endgame in Hong Kong" to mark the 35th year milestone for the achievements in tobacco control in Hong Kong, and prepare for future challenges ahead and develop blueprint for a smoke-free Hong Kong.
Officiating at the opening ceremony, the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, said that tobacco consumption is the single most important preventable risk factor responsible for the main causes of death and chronic diseases including cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Tobacco consumption is estimated to be responsible for almost 7 000 deaths in Hong Kong and more than 7 million deaths worldwide per year.
"The Government's tobacco control policy aims to safeguard public health by discouraging smoking, containing the proliferation of tobacco use and minimising the impact of passive smoking on the public. We adopt a multi-pronged approach, comprising legislation, enforcement, publicity, education, smoking cessation services and taxation. All of these efforts have added up together to bring down the smoking prevalence rate from 23.3 per cent in early 1982 to 10.5 per cent in 2015.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank COSH and our partners from different sectors of the society in the Government's tobacco control policy.
It has not been easy and please continue to stand by us to further strengthen the tobacco control regime in Hong Kong," Professor Chan said.
Also addressing the ceremony, the Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan, said that the enactment of the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance in 1982 provided a solid foundation for persistent progress in the fight against tobacco in the past 35 years.
"Notwithstanding the considerable progress we have made, we need to continue to work together to fight against a giant that is producing products that are harmful to health and polluting our environment," Dr Chan said.
"An increasing number of novel smoking products are being marketed with unproven claims that they are healthier alternatives to cigarettes. In the absence of information on their health impacts at both individual and population levels, we need to put greater efforts to address the emerging challenges of these products.
"Looking ahead, to safeguard public health, we aim to bring down the smoking prevalence rate from 10.5 per cent in 2015 further to a single-digit figure. To build a smoke-free Hong Kong, we need closer collaboration with our partners, as well as even stronger support from the wider community on tobacco control," Dr Chan added.
The Chairman of COSH, Mr Antonio Kwong, said, "Many countries have already adopted a tobacco endgame plan with a defined schedule to cease tobacco use so as to save lives of their people.
Hong Kong, having one of the lowest smoking prevalence rates in the world, should also formulate a plan to work towards a tobacco endgame."
At today's conference, the World Health Organization's Director of the Department for Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, Dr Douglas Bettcher; Chair Professor of Community Medicine and Sir Robert Kotewall Professor in Public Health, School of Public Health, the University of Hong Kong, Dr Lam Tai-hing; the Director of Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control, Professor Judith Mackay; and other overseas and local experts delivered plenary presentations under the themes of "Successful measures curbing tobacco epidemic" and "Testing and regulating novel tobacco products".
The morning sessions discussed effective tobacco control measures for working towards a tobacco endgame. The afternoon sessions focused on the emerging challenges of electronic cigarettes and other novel smoking products, with overseas experts sharing the scientific evidence from product testing and epidemiological studies to build the science-based opinions to support the effective and appropriate regulation of such products.
The DH will hold two round-table discussion sessions on testing e-cigarettes and novel tobacco products and challenges in regulating these products tomorrow morning (December 2). Expert discussants from all over the world will provide their expert views and opinions at the meeting.
For more details of the conference, please visit the DH's Tobacco Control Office at http://www.tco.gov.hk/english/whatsnew/conference.html" target="_blank">www.tco.gov.hk/english/whatsnew/conference.html.
Published on: 2017-12-01
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