“30th Anniversary of Tobacco Control in Hong Kong” Cocktail Reception Marks an Important Milestone for Smoke-free Hong Kong
2012.10.09For thirty years, the Hong Kong Government and the community at large have been working tirelessly to protect public health and to create a smoke-free environment for the next generation. Tobacco control in Hong Kong has now come to its 30th anniversary, and with the support of the Hong Kong Government, the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China and different sectors of the community, the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) has organized a cocktail reception to acknowledge the accomplishments on tobacco control over the past three decades, while at the same time look into the future on how to strive for a smoke-free Hong Kong.
Officiating guests included Mr. C Y LEUNG, GBM, GBS, JP, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; Dr. Margaret CHAN, OBE, JP, Director-General of the World Health Organization; Dr. HUANG Jie-fu, Vice Minister, Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China cum President of Chinese Association on Tobacco Control; Dr. KO Wing-man, BBS, JP, Secretary for Food and Health; Mr. Clement CHEUNG, JP, Commissioner of Customs and Excise; Dr. Constance CHAN, JP, Director of Health; Mr. Anthony WU, GBS, JP, Chairman of Hospital Authority and Ms. Lisa LAU, MH, JP, Chairman of Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health.
Since the enactment of the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Chapter 371) in 1982, Hong Kong has put enormous efforts to promote a territory-wide smoke-free environment and encourage smokers to quit through various means, including legislation, taxation, publicity, education and law enforcement. It is hoping that this can on one hand deter the use of tobacco products, and on the other hand, minimize the detrimental effects of secondhand smoke to the public. Every step in tobacco control is the result of efforts of the Government and different sectors of the community who work together towards a Smoke-free Hong Kong.
Speaking at the reception, Mr. C Y LEUNG, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said that the smoking prevalence in Hong Kong dropped gradually to 11%, one of the lowest in the Asia Pacific Region and in the world. The success in tobacco control was a result of the collaborative effort among various sectors. The HKSAR Government would continue to strengthen the efforts on tobacco control and strive for a smoke-free Hong Kong together with the community.
Dr. Margaret CHAN, OBE, JP, Director-General of the World Health Organization who has been involved in tobacco control works in Hong Kong, said, “Over the past three decades, Hong Kong has been doing its utmost to promote tobacco control with outstanding achievements. The smoking prevalence is one of the lowest in the Western Pacific Region and even in the world.”
Dr. Margaret CHAN continued, “Tobacco products lead to 6 million deaths every year, which is almost equal to the population of Hong Kong. If governments do not take effective measures on tobacco control, the number will be over 8 million by 2030. Tobacco industry is the only industry in the world that grabs huge profits from its customers while simultaneously jeopardizes their health and causes deaths. We hope the Government, COSH and the community can continue to fight against the tobacco industry and protect the public from smoking hazards. A smoke-free Hong Kong will set a shining example for the field of public health around the world.”
Another officiating guest, Dr. HUANG Jie-fu, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Health for the People’s Republic of China cum President of Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, said, “Tobacco hazards is one of the world's most serious problems on public health. Mainland China is one of the biggest stakeholders in tobacco cultivation, production and consumption. We have more than 300 million smokers in China, while a total of 740 million people are endangered by tobacco smoke. In recent years, the community has become aware of the smoking hazards. Tobacco control has become a prominent social issue and related legislation has gradually been established.”
“The World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has come into effect in Jan 2006. The Central Government has implemented a series of tobacco control measures with preliminary success. But there are still many challenges on tobacco control in the Mainland, and the mission is strenuous. We hope to further strengthen the collaboration of Mainland China and Hong Kong in the tobacco control works, and to learn from Hong Kong’s 30-year successful experience, with the purpose in moving tobacco control, which is beneficial to both the nation and the people, forward continuously for the sake of the health of our people.”
Ms. Lisa LAU, Chairman of Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, addressed, “In the past thirty years, public awareness on the hazards of smoking and secondhand smoke has been greatly enhanced. The smoking prevalence is dropping but most importantly the public’s attitude towards smoking behaviours has also been changed. Instead of remaining silent in the past, members of the public will now say NO to secondhand smoke and even support tobacco control actively. Our tobacco control efforts is not going to stop as the tobacco industry is still continuously using different manoeuvres to promote their products, and even worst, they are trying to obstruct the development of tobacco control measures, including the threat of making litigation to governments which implement stringent tobacco control measures. We should all work hand in hand to determinately fight against tobacco industry for public health. I wish that, with everyone’s effort, the smoking prevalence in Hong Kong will drop to single digit in coming years and Hong Kong will become a smoke-free city by 2022!”
At today’s cocktail reception, with more than 200 guests participating, the new APIs of COSH were also premiered. The two APIs, which will be broadcasted in all TV and radio stations starting from tomorrow, illustrate the hazards of smoking and reveal the promotion tactics of tobacco industry respectively. COSH has also invited a group of healthy and vibrant youngsters to promote smoke-free message through rope skipping performance. This creative performance stands as an example of Hong Kong people’s collective aspirations to promote tobacco control and create a healthy smoke-free Hong Kong.