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Health Minister Open to Generational Ban

Photo: Dmitry Rukhlenko

Hong Kong Health Minister Lo Chung-mau confirmed that banning tobacco sales for future generations will be on the table as a tool to further reduce youth smoking, according to the South China Morning Post.

Earlier news reports suggested authorities were considering a lifetime ban on anyone born in or after 2009 buying smoking products.

With a smoking prevalence of 9.5 percent in 2021, Hong Kong already has one of the world’s lowest smoking rates, but health authorities are keen to bring it down further still.

Lo said the government would look at the experience of other places in stopping young people from taking up the habit and move toward a “smoke-free Hong Kong.” New Zealand plans to phase out smoking through a generational tobacco ban and Malaysia is pondering similar measures.

Henry Tong Sau-chai, chairman of Hong Kong’s Council on Smoking and Health also suggested doubling the tobacco tax to encourage users to quit. This would mean a pack of cigarettes currently priced at HKD60 would rise to around HKD100.

Lo on Tuesday also said the government had also been pushing towards raising the tobacco tax, and tightening regulations on tobacco product advertisements.

Stepping up tobacco control was stipulated in Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu’s maiden policy address last month. He set a target to further reduce the smoking rate to 7.8 percent by 2025, and a public consultation will be launched next year on its steps.

Last year, the legislature also passed amendments to prohibit the import, promotion, manufacture, sale or the possession of alternative smoking products, including e-cigarettes, herbal cigarettes, or heated tobacco products.

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