Push for higher tobacco tax
The health chief wrote a column in Chinese-language newspapers yesterday to try to get support for a higher tobacco tax.
The government proposes a rise of 41.5 per cent in tobacco tax.
The Legislative Council will vote on the increase tomorrow.
If this is passed, it will be the second tobacco tax increase in the last decade. A 50 per cent rise was imposed in 2009.
Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, secretary for food and health, said in the column that the number of smokers had dropped from 23 per cent of all Hongkongers in 1980 to the present 12 per cent.
Chow also cited a government survey that found 80 per cent of people supported the tax.
He said about 7,000 people died each year in the city from chronic diseases triggered by first-hand or second-hand smoking.
He also said the tax rise could not be imposed in stages, because a mild and gradual increase would not be effective in deterring people from smoking.