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2018-03-22 HKT 16:52
The Department of Heath said on Thursday that data suggests only 10 percent of people aged 15 and above in Hong Kong are now regular smokers, down from 10.5 percent in 2015 and a record low figure for the city.
Back in the early eighties, almost a quarter of Hongkongers smoked on a daily basis.
Officials said according to a government survey of 10,000 households last year, the city's smokers are also lighting up fewer cigarettes than they did in the past – an average of 12.4 per day, down from 13.1 in 2015.
The head of the Tobacco Control Office, Jeff Lee, said the latest figures indicate that the government’s efforts to get people to kick the habit have been effective.
But Lee said that of those who do smoke, 63.5 percent can be classed as "hardcore smokers" who have no intention of stopping. This is an increase of 0.5 percent from 2015 and Lee said his office will arrange more outreach services to approach these people.
He added that the government will consider raising tobacco tax even further, as it's one of the most effective ways to persuade people to quit smoking.
The city's current tobacco tax is set at 67 percent of a product's retail price, lower than the 75 percent recommended by the World Health Organisation.
“We should consider different factors, including the economic situation of Hong Kong, the recommendations from the World Health Organisation, the retail price of cigarettes and also the public's views on our tobacco control work. After taking into consideration different factors, we will review our tobacco tax and adjust our tax as appropriate,” Lee said.
The survey also found that the number of people who smoke electronic cigarettes on a daily basis increased to 5,700 last year, from “no significant number” in 2015.
Lee said the government is studying how the law can be amended to regulate the use of e-cigarettes.