Hong Kong could ban cigarettes for future generations

3 November 2022

The Standard

Hong Kong could ban the sale of tobacco to its next generation, in a bid to eventually phase out smoking in the city, said Henry Tong Sau-chai, chairman of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health.

The government is mulling a ban on those born after 2009 from buying cigarettes or tobacco products in their lifetime, Tong quoted health minister Lo Chung-mau as saying in a meeting earlier.

To further compress the SAR’s smoking population, Tong said he had also suggested the health chief double the tobacco tax to provide an incentive for smokers to quit.

On average, a pack of cigarettes is priced at HK$60, including about HK$38, or 63 percent, of tobacco tax. The proposal would see cigarettes price soar to around HK$100 per pack.

Tong also suggested authorities expand its statutory no-smoking areas, including establishing a 10-meter smoke-free buffer zone that prevents second-hand smoke from entering facilities like hospitals and schools.

The council is also hoping for footbridges and outdoor restaurant seats to be included as statutory no-smoking areas in the future, he added.

Meanwhile, the chairman also called for a complete ban on flavored tobacco products to reduce their attractiveness – a move adopted in the UK and in EU states, as studies have shown nearly 60% of smokers aged 20-39 years and 70% of female smokers smoked flavored cigarettes such as menthol cigarettes.

“The government should also consider mandating plain packaging for cigarettes with full health warnings and ban shops from displaying tobacco products in plain sight,” said Tong.