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Legislative amendments gazetted to give effect to tobacco duty increase proposal

     The Government published in the Gazette today (March 7) the Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2014 to give effect to the 2014-15 Budget proposal of increasing tobacco duty rates by 11.72 per cent, or $0.2 per cigarette stick.
     The proposal came into immediate effect at 11am on February 26, when the Budget was announced, under the Public Revenue Protection (Dutiable Commodities) Order 2014. The Order gives provisional legal effect to the proposal for four months. It is necessary for the Government to introduce the bill containing the proposal into the Legislative Council (LegCo) within this period for enactment by the LegCo.

     A Government spokesman said, "The Government's tobacco control policy seeks to safeguard public health and we have strengthened our tobacco control efforts progressively through a multipronged approach comprising legislation, enforcement, publicity, education, smoking cessation services and taxation.

     "The World Health Organization considers that price and tax are an effective and important means of reducing tobacco consumption, and that when prices of tobacco products increase, fewer people use tobacco, those who continue to smoke consume less, those who have quit smoking are less likely to start again and the young are less likely to start smoking.
     "Smoking cessation is an integral and indispensable part of the Government's tobacco control policy to complement other tobacco control measures, including taxation. We will continue to seek collaboration with non-Government organisations (NGOs) and allocate more resources for both the public sector and NGOs to provide a comprehensive range of smoking cessation services, including enquiry, counselling, clinic services and campaigns. We will also increase our efforts in publicity, education and enforcement.

     "In the past few years, the Customs and Excise Department has kept illicit cigarette activities under control through redeployment of manpower to strategically step up boundary control to stop the inflow of illicit cigarettes at source and strengthen urban sweeping operations against illicit cigarettes activities downtown, with the result that the number of public complaints on illicit cigarette activities registered a year-on-year decrease of 37 per cent."

     The Bill will be introduced into the LegCo on March 19 for scrutiny.

Ends/Friday, March 7, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:15


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