The successful implementation of smoke-free legislation in Hong Kong has led to an overall decrease in the total number of smokers. But the remaining smokers who are finding it difficult to quit are going on to become 'hard-core' smokers, according to a new study from Chinese University.
The study was presented on Friday at the World Congress of Cardiology in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, organised by the World Heart Federation. It found the number of smokers in the territory who went on to become hard-core smokers grew from 23.8 per cent in 2005 to 29.4 per cent in 2008 for men and from 10.6 per cent (2005) to 16.3 per cent (2008) for women.
'Hard core' is defined as daily smokers aged 26 years or older who have a smoking history of at least six years, smoke at least 11 cigarettes on average each day, have never tried to quit and don't intend to.
'The increase in hard-core smokers is a worrying trend,' says Dr Doris Leung of Chinese University. 'Smoke-free legislation has gone a long way in reducing the overall number of smokers in Hong Kong. We now need to look at how we can help those individuals with serious tobacco habits to stop.'
Exercise might help. According to a study by Taiwan's National Health Research Institute presented at the congress, active smokers (at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day) were 55 per cent likelier to quit smoking than those who were inactive. These active smokers were 43 per cent less likely to relapse than smokers who were inactive.
The study involved 434,190 people who went through a medical examination at a private, fee-paying company between 1996 and 2008. Physical activity was also shown to increase life expectancy. Smokers who participated in physical activity had an increased life expectancy of 3.7 years.