They say a country’s greatest asset is not its physical wealth or socioeconomic standing, but it is the people. When the people are able to have a relatively good quality of life, they are able to function to their highest potential, and in effect contribute greater to nation building and powering its economy.
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Quality of life can be measured through a number of ways; however, we cannot discount the fact that an individual’s quality of life is greatly (if not entirely) affected by one’s physical health. And it is for this reason that the Hong Kong government has been keen on addressing factors that play an important role or has impact on the people’s health – one of which is smoking.
Hong Kong’s Tobacco Control Programme Receives WHO Distinction
According to Secretary for Food & Health Prof. Sophia Chan, Hong Kong’s Department of Health has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) by bestowing it the World No Tobacco Day award for its exemplary work in tobacco control for the past 30 years, as shared in a report by news.gov.hk.
As per Prof Chan, in a span of 30 years, the Government has been working very hard on tobacco control through a multi-pronged approach – legislation, taxation, public education as well as provision of smoking cessation services.
She noted that through these efforts, the city’s smoking prevalence has gone down from 23% in the 1980s to the current 10%.
Furthermore, Prof. Chan shared that the Government will continue to adopt a multi-pronged approach as well as working closely with the WHO to keep itself abreast with global trends in terms of tobacco control.
Regarding the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Bill of 2019 which aims to ban e-cigarettes, Professor Chan expressed the hope that the Legislative Council Bills Committee would finish its work in scrutinising the bill as soon as possible for the new law to take effect, following the programme’s achievement and success in the last 30 years of its implementation.
Prof. Chan also shared that the Government looks to boost education and awareness among the younger generation as well as to widen the scope of smoking cessation services to cover new and alternative smoking products that are being introduced in the market today and even in the future.
In many first-world countries such as Japan and Singapore, legislation is still being worked out to be standardized and adopted on the national level. However, for a relatively smaller country such as Hong Kong, this feat has been implemented effectively and is showing good results as backed by numbers. Let’s just hope this would also translate to cleaner air efforts, which Hong Kong has also been struggling with for a long time.