FEWER smokers, better medical care and the introduction of seat-belt laws are just some of the factors that have added an extra six years to the average Hong Kong life span in the past 20 years, according to the Health Department.
A government review released yesterday said a dramatic fall in the death rate during the past two decades had seen the life expectancy of men shoot up from just less than 68 years in 1971 to almost 75 in 1992.
Women are also living longer and had a life expectancy of 80.5 in 1992 compared to just over 75 in 1971.
A Health Department spokesman said improved social and economic conditions, such as better housing, hygiene and a cleaner environment had played a major role in the changes.
He added: ''Medical and health services have also improved while people have a greater awareness of health issues and care more about the kind of food they eat and the environment they live in than they did two decades ago.'' But although the death rate is expected to carry on falling, the Government said it believed the rate of decline was likely to be much slower in future.
The review, published in the latest Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics, said: ''There is increasing awareness among the population of environmental protection, smoking problems, balanced diets and physical fitness, and these aspects are all conduciveto further mortality decline.'' The Health Department said a massive immunisation programme had also played a big part in the declining mortality.