Letters to the Editor, January 28, 2018

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 January, 2018, 9:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 January, 2018, 9:00am

Give smokers options to help kick the habit

I recently saw a smoking cessation advertisement on the MTR by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals. The advert shows two kinds of ­tobacco products, namely, traditional cigarettes and heated tobacco products. The message is simple: with or without combustion, you quit or you die.

I could not help but wonder: what drives our Tung Wah friends to make such a strong statement, apart from the sense of a mission to eliminate all kinds of smoking – even if it is not technically “smoking” when there is no burning involved – as well as hostility towards ­innovative products?

Our education has certainly done a brilliant job in stereotyping smoking and anything that is remotely related to smoking, to a point that one may naturally find the above message against new tobacco products convincing, despite the apparent lack of scientific justification.

It took me seconds to look for credible overseas studies, experiences and regulatory developments, in countries including the UK and the US, for some reason either ignored or dismissed by our local specialists. Authorities there are ­encouraging innovations in such products to combat conventional tobacco use. Doctors in the UK even tell patients to try e-cigarettes to ­alleviate the harm from traditional tobacco products.

The Tung Wah Group’s Integrated Centre on Smoking Cessation claims to have helped 38.9 per cent smokers kick the habit in 2014. If the remaining 62.1 per cent smokers found traditional methods ineffective, but were discouraged or even banned from using less harmful alternatives, what is left for the government and the Tung Wah Group to do for these people?

It is ­unwise to label less harmful alternatives as the “new enemy” of public health. Allowing these products to be sold legally could motivate smokers to switch from conventional cigarettes and help the government to lower the smoking rate.

Anthony Lo, Tai Po

TST terminal of Star Ferry ­is a disgrace

I refer to the report on Hong Kong’s Star Ferry seeking a franchise extension (“Star Ferry pledges low fares for greener ride”, January 19).

One sincerely hopes the government will make renovation of the shamefully dilapidated Star Ferry terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui a non-negotiable condition for renewal of the operator’s franchise.

Have any of the responsible bureaucrats ever set foot there and waited for a ferry? An iconic venue has been ­allowed to ­become a slum. It’s a disgrace.

Joe Spitzer, The Peak

Medical sector reform must be priority for city

I refer to the article by Yujing Liu (“Hongkongers happier with government but medical services are a big worry”, January 23). A poll by Chu Hai College found the satisfaction rating for public health care declined from 6.29 to 5.88 on a scale of zero to 10, the lowest level since the survey started in 2005.

I believe recent incidents in hospitals are to blame. For example, in October, a surgeon left a patient on the operating table for three hours during a liver transplant to perform surgery at another hospital. And in ­August, a 43-year-old mother died of complications despite two liver transplants, following a medical blunder. Such incidents have made Hongkongers lose trust in the medical system.

Moreover, there aren’t enough health care workers to tackle the surge in patients, most of whom must wait for hours to receive treatment. Overworked health care staff are exhausted and may easily make a wrong judgment. The government should reform the medical system in Hong Kong and invite overseas health care workers to cope with the situation.

Alice Ma, Tseung Kwan O

E-learning is making lessons more enjoyable

I refer to your article on how technology is being used in China to solve the problem of the lack of teachers in rural areas (“Online classes may ease rural woes”, January 22).

Use of technology has had a significant effect on spreading education in mainland China. Hong Kong, too, uses technology in learning. For instance, many schools use tablets for lessons. Students are not only more enthusiastic about participating in class activities through online learning applications and platforms, but also remember lessons better as the learning process is more enjoyable.

Technology is indeed indispensable to create a better learning environment. If properly used, technology can make learning more effective.

Kaecee Wong, Ngau Tau Kok

Smart tech can make people dull and lazy

I refer to the article on smart homes (“Artificial intelligence advances smart home ­conversation”, January 22).

Advanced technology can change our lifestyles, and the spotlight will surely be on ­artificial intelligence (AI).

AI, created by humans, has acquired the knowledge and skills to benefit our daily lives. It is amazing how technology can improve our lives, and help us to achieve higher work efficiency.

Apple’s virtual assistant Siri is among the most well-known AI systems, and is a major factor behind the success of the ­iPhone. These kinds of futuristic technology will probably bring us to a new era, but it is just a bit too early to say for sure.

Increasing dependence on technology is not all good. For example, the craze for smartphones has created the phenomenon of “phubbers”: people who are so engrossed in their phones that they snub ­human contact. ­Advanced technology also makes people lazier, as they do not like to tax their brains or exercise.

People should treasure ­advancements in technology, and not take it for granted or let it rule their lives. There is much that technology cannot ­replace, like bonds with family or friends, not to mention feelings that AI cannot simulate.

Andy Yeung, Tiu Keng Leng

Move tenants of divided flats to prefab units

I refer to the letter from Katrina Lo on subdivided homes (“Subdivided flat tenants face safety issues”, January 25).

There is no doubt that over the long term we must make available permanent public housing of a minimum standard of safety and hygiene, for those forced to endure the conditions in substandard subdivided flats.

But the immediate need is to get them out of these subdivided and unhygienic fire traps. The ­answer must be temporary flats that can be quickly assembled from prefabricated parts.

This should be done before some nasty accident befalls us. It is no good always talking about “eventually”.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan