• Fri
  • Oct 24, 2014
  • Updated: 2:47am
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

For the sake of our youth, raise tobacco tax

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 February, 2014, 2:56am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 February, 2014, 2:56am
 

The higher the government raises the tobacco tax, the fewer the number of people who will pay it, either because they will no longer be able to afford to buy legal cigarettes, or take up smoking in the first place. In that respect it is a good tax. Rather than being aimed at raising revenue, it discourages a self-harming habit, is a disincentive to try it and promotes public health.

Health professionals and anti-tobacco activists were disappointed that the government did not raise the tobacco tax in last year's budget, after two hefty increases in the past five years. Officials are to be commended, therefore, for considering raising the tax further in the financial secretary's budget speech later this month, and also coupling the move with tougher tobacco controls and more money for educating kindergarten and primary pupils on the dangers of smoking.

The high-tax approach is opposed by the tobacco industry-funded Hong Kong United Against Illicit Tobacco, which claims the tax is to blame for the city's growing black-market cigarette trade. There has to be some truth in this, although, as the organisation concedes, stronger law enforcement is called for.

But since the ultimate target of anti-smoking measures has to be young people, and a higher tax makes the habit unaffordable before they earn enough money, it has been found to be the most effective strategy. Lisa Lau Man-chan, chairwoman of the Council on Smoking and Health, says the smoking rate among young people has dropped since 2008, while the number of people who light up has dropped to an all-time low.

Worryingly, however, more young children may be taking up the habit, according to a recent survey quoted by the Tobacco Control Office. High tobacco duty, a ban on smoking indoors and tight advertising restrictions have been instrumental in helping Hong Kong achieve the lowest ratio of smokers in the Asia-Pacific region. But there is no room for complacency about the emerging trend of under-age smoking.

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This article is now closed to comments

likingming
The benefits of smoking :
1.) Reduce stress
2.) keep fit (zero calories)
3.) Enhance inspiration
4.) Socializing medium (by sharing cigarattes).
5.) if the "use of fire" is the signature of civilization, then the use of "smoking" is more advance
6.) smoking includes chinese incense, cigarattes, cigars, smoked food, SPA Aromatherapy.....
7.) Because of the above, smoking prolongs your life expectancy like our heavy smoker chairman Deng who lived up to 94.
Declare : I have not taken up this habit yet.
Harold Cameron
Ever increasing taxes on tobacco here in U.K. have only resulted in more smuggling & regularly Customs & Excise intercept containerl loads of fake cigarettes which contain far more toxins than so called legitimate cigarettes. Heavy fines & tough jail sentencing would make no difference to this highly profitable illegal trade, but if higher tax could be used to increase the numbers of police & excise officers this could possibly make a difference.
yufang
There will be just more smuggling of **** so people will be buying cheap ciggies anyway & organised crime will be more profitable. So - brilliant idea really.
dynamco
Mandatory prison sentences for peddlar & buyer alike will stop that
Conspiracy to defraud charges against Tobacco Co execs & it will stop immediately after the first one goes to jail
Use the Organised + Serious Crimes Ordinance to seize assets
mymak
While you are setting all of these new laws and punishments, why not also exponentially increase the cost of policing this. As to jailing the tobacco execs, why is it that currently it is the dealers and smugglers and not the producers of illegal class A and class B drugs that are jailed? You are overestimating the power and reach of the Hong Kong judicial system.
Perhaps you should reference the ongoing debate regarding the costs of prosecuting marijuana users and sellers? Particularly look at the Colorado situation and recent UK legislation.
dynamco
because tobacco kills yearly more people than guns, murders, genocide, traffic accidents, suicides, illicit drugs, prescription drugs. suicides, Aids & malaria combined & also kills bystanders - 23% of 7,000 yearly HK deaths attributable to tobacco related diseases are from passive smoking
What's your next point ?
crooko61@gmail.com
Short term solutions rarely work, and this solution has not worked in several countries. A better solution would be to legalise liquid nicotine and embrace the e-cigarette revolution happening in Europe & the U.S.
This would also have the effect of reducing the black market, rather than making the black market more profitable through raising taxes, and then having to use amounts of the increased revenue to fight the smuggling.
A further effect would be to potentially reduce the funding requirements of public hospitals dealing with the increased requirements of the ageing smoking population, as Asia is on the cusp of a giant leap in these statistics as a result of the tobacco giants concentrating their marketing efforts in the mid-late 80's, after it became obvious that their Western markets had peaked. The leap in Cancer rates in China over the last 1-2 years bear this out.
Whilst the e-cigarette market is not without its issues and concerns as a new product that requires both legislation & research, it is one that has been particularly embraced by the over 30's who are aware of the health issues, but who either don't want to, or are unable to, give up. The argument that it will prove to be a gateway to youngsters falls down when the cost of using a refillable e-cig is currently around HK$150 per month, roughly a tenth of real cigarettes. Why would anybody want to switch?
dynamco
'E-cigarette smokers may absorb MORE nicotine and toxins than regular smokers': Study to investigate risk of using 'healthy' tobacco alternative
• E-cigarettes are increasing no longer being seen as just a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are already addicted to nicotine
• 12% of students who use them have never smoked a conventional cigarette
www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2523175/E-cigarette-smokers-absorb-MORE-nicotine-toxins-regular-smokers-Study-investigates-risks-tobacco-alternatives.html
E-cigs will kill kids
www.cbsatlanta.com/story/24659238/poison-control-e-cigs-causing-nicotine-poisoning-in-kids
Meanwhile the Death Merchants have upped the nicotine content of their products to ensure a sure hook
commonhealth.wbur.org/2014/01/cigarette-study-increased-nicotine-yield-may-make-quitting-even-harder
crooko61@gmail.com
the dail mail---a gossip mag and trash paper
"In fact, the study is still ongoing and the findings have not yet been published. We are happy to clarify this." ---Daily Mail
Your reporting as bad as theirs, since you have hijacked the report without taking it in context and misrepresented the quotes to suit your argument, and that from a trashy paper too!!!
"The issue is urgent as a recent survey conducted among students at eight U.S. colleges found that 12 per cent of e-cig users had never smoked a conventional cigarette."-Daily Mail
As to the second one, I can guarantee you, as someone who eat the contents of their parents ashtray at aged 3,that e cigs are safer-the nicotine is enclosed, unlike ashtrays and an open packet of cigarettes.
The Mail article has been reported to the press authorities and further reports and research have clarified the "carcinogenic issue".
****blog.casaa.org/2013/08/french-e-cigarette-study-media.html
captam
@ dynamco's list
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etc. etc.
You left us hardly anything to add. Give us a chance !
Ah! .... you missed one ;- "doctors in charge of hospitals or members of COSH under no onus to prevent smoking in hospital toilets and staircases"

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