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Latest cigarette smoking prevalence rate announced (with photo)
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     The latest government survey results reveal that the overall prevalence of smokers in Hong Kong has been on a continuous decreasing trend.  The percentage of daily cigarette smokers aged 15 and above in the local population last year was 10.5%.  Relevant figure in 2012 was 10.7%. The daily cigarette smokers among teenagers aged between 15 and 19 also decreased from 2% in 2012 to 1.1% in 2015.

     According to the latest Thematic Household Survey Report of the Census and Statistics Department, there were 641 300 daily cigarette smokers in 2015, with 538 300 or 83.9% being male and 103 000 or 16.1% being female.  

     In another school-based survey conducted from October 2014 to April 2015 on smoking among students, the smoking prevalence among Primary 4 to 6 students and Secondary 1 to 6 students was 0.2% and 2.7% respectively, representing a decrease of 0.1 and 0.6 percentage points over that of the same period in 2012/13.  The survey was done by the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and commissioned by the Food and Health Bureau.

     Speaking at a press conference, the Under Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, said today (February 4) that the Government is pleased to see that the overall prevalence of smokers is on a decreasing trend from 23.3% in early 1980s to 10.5% in 2015.  

     This shows that the Government's multi-pronged approach in tobacco control, including legislation, taxation, law enforcement, health promotion and smoking cessation services, is proved to be effective with the support of the community.

     "Although our daily cigarette smoking prevalence continues to be one of the lowest around the world, we cannot afford complacency, especially in the face of the fact that the smoking prevalence of certain groups did not see any significant decrease. For example, the smoking prevalence of female remains at the level of 3 to 4% in the past 10 years. At the same time, we also face challenges posed by e-cigarettes which have become more popular," she said.

     According to the survey done by the School of Public Health of HKU, a respective 2.6% and 9 % of Primary 4 to 6 students and Secondary 1 to 6 students were ever e-cigarette users, while 1.3% of the secondary students were current e-cigarette users.

     "The Government has much concern about the use of e-cigarettes among students. The Government is therefore considering prohibiting import, manufacture, sale, distribution and advertising of e-cigarettes through legislation with an aim to protect public health. We hope that the relevant amendment bill can be introduced into the Legislative Council soon. In the meantime, the Government will continue to educate the public on the potential harms of e-cigarettes," Professor Chan said.

     She added that the Government will continue to push forward its tobacco control work. It will work closely with its community partners, step up health education and promotion to raise public awareness of the hazards of smoking, second-hand and third-hand smoke. The Government will also enhance the smoking cessation services to attract more smokers to quit smoking effectively, aiming at bringing down the smoking prevalence further down to single digit.  @

Ends/Thursday, February 4, 2016
Issued at HKT 21:07

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