Quota on tax-free cigarettes
I am writing in response to the recent debate about the quota on cigarettes brought to Hong Kong from the mainland.
The maximum number of tax-free cigarettes each person can bring across the border is now 19. I am excited about the new policy. I think it will help reduce the number of smokers.
A drop in the number of smokers is not just good for the environment, but also for everyone's health.
Rex Zhang, Hang Seng School of Commerce
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Rex. As a non-smoker I am always glad to know there are more places to visit without being plagued by second-hand smoke. But history has shown us quite clearly that 'outlawing' vices and overtaxing them only increases their marketability and further goes on to make it more worthwhile for criminals to think of ways to beat the system. We can see this in all sorts of things like alcohol, drugs and prostitution.
The criminal element often becomes an entity on its own, as has happened with drugs and the terrible killings happening in Mexico and Haiti. It would be terrible if such a thing were to happen over cigarettes.
The move also opens the way for corruption and bribery. These rules need to be carefully thought out. We live in a very free society and we wish to keep it that way. If people wish to smoke, they should be able to make that choice.