• Fri
  • Oct 24, 2014
  • Updated: 7:38pm
NewsHong Kong

Wine tax could be reintroduced to curb Hong Kong's binge drinking

Hongkongers' alcohol consumption has risen considerably, particularly among young people

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 3:12am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 6:44pm

Health officials will look into controls on alcohol advertisements and a possible reintroduction of the wine tax to combat growing consumption of alcohol, particularly among young people.

This follows a steady rise in consumption generally and a big increase in binge drinking among the young, Centre for Health Protection consultant Dr Regina Ching Cheuk-tuen said yesterday.

"We should face up to the increasing trend," Ching said. "We have provided the data to related departments to see whether a change in the [tax] policy is needed, while we monitor problems that arise from drinking."

The department would also gather information on alcohol advertisements and communicate with broadcast regulators.

Hongkongers' average alcohol consumption has been increasing consistently each year from 2.6 litres in 2009 to 2.9 in 2012, measured in pure alcohol and calculated by dividing local alcohol production and net imports by the total population.

Meanwhile, the percentage of people aged 18 to 24 engaged in binge drinking has risen each year - from 7.4 in 2010 to 9.8 in 2012, Health Department figures show.

And the rate of children aged under 18 admitted to hospital for alcohol-induced conditions increased from two in every 100,000 in the age group in 2009 to 3.3 in 2012.

Ching, the centre's consultant for non-communicable diseases, said alcohol created health risks regardless of the amount consumed. She said health officials had also been discussing alcohol issues with university representatives in the past few months.

"We became aware that alcohol manufacturers are holding promotion activities on campuses and raised the problem with universities," she said. "Both staff and students should know more about the harmful effects of drinking."

Ching said many local students picked up the habit at university, from overseas students who brought in the drinking culture.

University of Hong Kong research has shown the percentage of boys engaged in binge drinking rose from 11 per cent in their first year of university to 21 per cent in their second year. The increase is more serious among girls - from 2.8 to 7.9 per cent.

Binge drinking is defined as having drunk at least five glasses or cans of alcoholic drinks on one occasion in the past month.

Hong Kong Paediatric Society president Dr Daniel Chiu Cheung-sing said alcoholic drinks should not be made available to children and young people. Law enforcement should be tightened so that those under 18 are unable to purchase alcohol, which they can do in convenience stores, he said. The city has become a global wine-trading hub since a 40 per cent wine tax was abolished in 2008.



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This article is now closed to comments

HK government...JOhn Tsang "HK should follow Singapore"....
THis will include all the negative issues in S'pore... like flooding! Major flooding in HK as well.
Loss of freedom? Embracing dictatorship?
Tax on wine?... Tax on, Tax off! Tax on again....as if HKgers are all in kindergarden....
What a joke...!!! Mickey Mouse Gov't?
Binge drinking? Drink here in HK is totally not comparable to western countries....
If people ( young or old) wants to drink, no matter how much tax u slap on...people will still drink....
Sounds like more Kiasu than S'pore now....
Binge drinking of wine from kids? Do they really think money really grow on trees here in HK ? Who ever conducted this survey and recommended to levy on wine and wine alone must really hate rich people. Perhaps this person(s) had a sudden jolt of inferiority complex dining in a restaurant popping a bottle of table wine while someone sat at the next table opening a bottle of Lafite. LOL
how come they did not drop the tax on Mao Tai yet ?
Classic knee-jerk reaction by bureaucrats. (A very Singaporean trait too - straitjacketing, penalties and fines - it doesn't take anything more than an idiot to introduce these "solutions".)
Doesn't make a real difference to the end-consumer. After the tax was abolished wine prices barely budged on the retail end.
abolishing the wine tax benefited Henry the oaf with his $49m collection wine sale and the supermarkets and wine suppliers who did not pass on the tax allowance
Kids drinking wine? It just sounds like another way for the government to make money when they could really be doing their job and monitoring vendors who don't card the little kiddies and charge them instead! Why should wine be taxed when we have thousands of 7/11's who can't be ****d to simply ask for ID?
wine with water is a staple at meals in France , Italy, Greece for kids
check out the heart disease comparison between those countries
So where is the highest heart disease in the world >?
1 Finland hard spirits all night daylight partying smoking
2 Scotland deep fried Mars Bars/ hard liquor/ smoking
research Red wine : resveratrol
Drinking problems are everywhere and in every country. It's become evident that alarmist tends to blow everything out of proportions as scare tactics. Have they considered the rest of the majority users are moderate and social drinkers? These money mongering bureaucrats always resort to raising taxes to penalize or use as a deterrent as resolution. It's like a quick fix whenever Armageddon arises and instead of tackling the problem they kill the symptom.
Why not start with education and invest in community awareness. Why kick in overkill whenever they face with a dilemma? These idiots have little problem solving skills. Feeding us with all the numbers and data has become a chore in SCMP and I am so desensitized that they don't mean jack to me anymore. It's all down to worshipping the city's coffer.
I particularly enjoyed the photo that accompanied the article. Clearly an archived picture from the Hong Kong Sevens, which was more than likely of three 30 something year olds dressed as Wonder Women ! Comeon SCMP, you're better than this irrelevance.




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