SFH speaks on tobacco control

Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, after attending the opening ceremony of the "Towards a Tobacco Endgame in Hong Kong" conference today (December 1):

Reporter: (On the strategy todecrease the smoking prevalence rate to a single-digit figure.)

Secretary for Food and Health: As far as the smoking survey is concerned, in terms of tracking the smoking prevalence in Hong Kong, we have always been referring to the thematic household survey which shows the 10.5 per cent smoking prevalence. Obviously, the number is an indication for us to know what we are doing, how we are doing, and what are some of the things we mainly do to further protect the public in terms of tobacco. More importantly, our strategies and measures of tobacco control in Hong Kong would be multi-pronged, whereby we are not only dealing with legislation, but also education, taxation as well as smoking cessation, where we help the people of Hong Kong to quit smoking.

Given the relatively low smoking prevalence in Hong Kong, it is even more important for us to help those who cannot quit or find it very difficult to quit smoking. Perhaps many of those who are easy to quit have already quitted.

Reporter: You are talking about low smoking prevalence. In fact, 14.8 per cent is not low.

One in four men smoking is not low but is disastrous. What is your point on that?

Secretary for Food and Health: When I say low, it is really the comments by many of the neighbouring countries. When we compare with other parts of the world, this may be relatively low smoking prevalence.

We cannot be complacent because the outcome of this smoking prevalence is averaging out the man and woman smoking prevalence. In Hong Kong, we have relatively low woman smoking prevalence. That is why we have come up to this result.

Whatever smoking prevalence we have, it is not something that we can complacent. Because every member coming from this smoking prevalence is a human life and it is our responsibility to help save life affected by these harmful products.

Reporter: Yesterday, the COSH called on the Government to increase the current tobacco duty by 100 per cent. Does the Government have any plan to increase the tobacco duty next year? What is the government stance on e-cigarettes right now?

Secretary for Food and Health: As I have said earlier, the Government's tobacco control measures and policies include not only taxation, but also legislation, enforcement, education as well as smoking cessation.

We use this multi-pronged approach in a progressive manner. In the past 10 years, we have increased tobacco duty and trying to make reference to the World Health Organization's recommendation on tobacco duty. In the coming years, we will be looking into the effectiveness of our multi-pronged tobacco control measures in order to work on our future strategies.

As far as e-cigarette is concerned, we have previously reported to the Legislative Council about strengthening the regulatory framework of e-cigarette. Many evidences we have collected globally show that e-cigarette is harmful and many of the substances of e-cigarette are actually carcinogenic and also harmful to health. Therefore, there is a need for the Government to strengthen the regulatory framework for e-cigarette in Hong Kong.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Published on: 2017-12-01

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