Press Release

 Email this articleGovernment Homepage

LCQ2: Promote smoke-free messages among young


    Following is a question by the Hon Bernard Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (March 16):


    The Government plans to amend the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance in order to expand no-smoking areas and tighten the control over the advertisement and promotion of tobacco products.  However, apart from designating schools as no-smoking areas, no other measures against young smokers and for preventing young people from picking up the smoking habit have been drawn up in the proposed amendments.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) it will consider increasing the tobacco duty to push up cigarette prices so as to resolve the problem of young people smoking and prevent them from picking up the smoking habit; and

(b) it will strengthen its efforts in banning smoking targeted at young people, such as establishing funds to finance voluntary and non-government organizations in carrying out their work in preventing young people from smoking?


Madam President,

In line with the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the Administration has adopted a comprehensive approach to youth smoking prevention, featuring a mix of legislative, economic, public education and smoking cessation measures.

On the legislative front, there are numerous provisions in the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance ("the Ordinance") that seek to restrict access to tobacco products by young people.  The major ones concern (i) prohibition of sale of cigarettes by retailers to minors; (ii) prohibition of sale of cigarettes individually; and (iii) prohibition of sale of tobacco products from vending machines.  To reduce the costs and hazards of smoking and secondhand smoking to our community, we will shortly introduce a bill to the Legislative Council to amend the Ordinance.  Apart from the designation of schools as no-smoking areas, the following legislative initiatives will help promote a smokefree environment that discourages smoking by young people.

- strengthening the powers of the Tobacco Control Office to bring about more effective enforcement of the Ordinance;

- banning smoking in indoor public places frequented by teenagers such as restaurants, karaokes and discos;

- enhancing the deterrent effect of government warnings on cigarette packets by prescribing warnings with pictorial and graphical contents; and

- removing current exemptions on the display of tobacco advertisements at licensed hawker stalls and small retail shops.

Education is another essential component of our strategy to tackle youth smoking. The Education and Manpower Bureau has incorporated anti-smoking messages into routine health programmes and educational materials for primary and secondary schools.  The Department of Health (DH) runs health programmes in secondary schools regularly to improve the psychosocial health of adolescents through training on life skills and resilience building.  The harms of smoking and the skills to prevent the formation of smoking habits are disseminated through such training activities.  Separately, the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) has been promoting smoke-free messages among primary and secondary school students through educational activities such as anti-smoking dramas.

To complement the legislative exercise to make indoor workplaces and public places smokefree, we will continue to invest in public education and publicity activities to promote "no-smoking" as the community norm.  Apart from allocations to government departments and COSH, we will provide financial support to voluntary and non-government agencies to conduct anti-smoking activities, including those on youth smoking prevention, through the Health Care and Promotion Fund and the Health and Health Services Research Found.  In this connection, we will liaise with the Grant Committee/Council of these Funds to set tobacco control as one of the thematic priorities for the coming years.

On smoking cessation, through DH's chest clinics and the smoking cessation and counseling centres operated by the Hospital Authority, we have been providing quit-smoking services to persons in need including young smokers.  The services provided include medical assessment, counseling, drug therapy and health education.  To cope with the anticipated rise in demand for smoking cessation, DH will implement a number of new initiatives in 2005 including computerization of the cessation hotline to increase the number of concurrent service recipients and interactive dissemination of cessation information through the Internet.

We recognize that economic measures are effective and important means to reduce tobacco consumption by various segments of the population, in particular young persons.  Over the years, the Government has progressively increased the tobacco duty for cigarettes, which is now more than half of their retail prices in general.  The Administration will continue to keep under review whether adjustments to the tobacco duties should be made, having regard to the implications of further duty increases on illegal tobacco activities and the effectiveness of legislative, publicity and public education measures to curb smoking.

Ends/Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Email this article