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First WHO Collaborating Centre for Smoking Cessation officially launched in Hong Kong (with photos)

     A ceremony to mark the official launch for the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Smoking Cessation and Treatment of Tobacco Dependence (Centre) in Hong Kong was held today (April 9). The WHO Collaborating Centre in Hong Kong is the first of its kind in the theme of smoking cessation. Today's launching ceremony was officiated by the Director of Health, Dr P Y Lam, and the Regional Director for the Western Pacific of WHO, Dr Shin Young-soo.

     The Department of Health (DH) was designated by the WHO to set up the Centre in Hong Kong which aims to provide evidence-based smoking cessation training for healthcare personnel; develop, test and evaluate models of smoking cessation; support WHO's initiatives on smoking cessation; and assist WHO in the dissemination of information on smoking cessation.

     Addressing the ceremony, the Regional Director for the Western Pacific of WHO, Dr Shin Young-soo, said "The Centre could serve as a regional hub to support smoking cessation training in particular helping the Western Pacific Region and Mainland China. In addition, the Centre could coordinate local training activities and engage a consortium of service providers as smoking cessation partners with the Centre."

     Dr Shin noted that while Hong Kong continued with its current tobacco control strategies, the expansion of smoking cessation services would offer smokers the golden opportunities to quit and further reduce the burden of tobacco-related diseases.

     He pointed out that Hong Kong has one of the lowest smoking prevalence in the region. Since 1982, Hong Kong has reduced the smoking prevalence from 23% to 11.1% as a result of incremental and multi-pronged strategies including legislation, taxation, education and publicity, banning of tobacco advertisement, law enforcement and offer of smoking cessation services.

     "The expansion of smoking cessation effort in the public sector and the community would make smoke-free Hong Kong a reality," Dr Shin added.

     Also speaking at the ceremony, the Director of Health, Dr P Y Lam, said, " Over the past two years, DH have trained up more than 100 healthcare personnel from Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China in smoking cessation services. We also opened our doors to tobacco control personnel from the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam. We learnt from our graduates that the courses greatly enhanced their skills, confidence and readiness in providing treatment to quitters."

     "The Government has always recognised the importance of tobacco control work. Additional resources have been allocated to smoking cessation and Tobacco Control Office of DH has been enhancing local services through enhancement of quitline services, capacity building of community partners and empowerment of healthcare workers," he said.

     Dr Lam stressed that Hong Kong would continue to share experiences with various parties in smoking cessation in the coming years and work towards a smoke-free Hong Kong.

     The Centre, which is scheduled to commence operation later this year, is located at 10/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

Ends/Monday, April 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:01


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