Environment & Health Hong Kong

Smoking group to protest bigger warnings on packets at July 1 march

A group representing Hong Kong’s smokers will set up a stall at the annual July 1 march to collect signatures for a petition calling on the government to scrap new plans on cigarette packaging, according to MingPao.

The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health confirmed the “hot pot” procession would take place during the annual rally in Causeway Bay.

The group has voiced opposition to government plans on standardised cigarette packaging in Hong Kong.

cigarette photo ash tray

Under current regulations, health warnings have to cover at least half the surface of the packet. The new regulations put forward by the Food and Health Bureau said the warnings should cover at least 85 percent of the packaging. They are set to be implemented next year.

Critics of the proposal said the policy would have little effect on smoking in Hong Kong. A poll conducted by the group said 95 per cent of the 978 smokers they surveyed did not think having a larger health warning on cigarette packets would deter people from smoking.

A spokesperson told the paper that expanding the health warning on the package would do little to deter people who currently smoke, saying it would only make it difficult for smokers to distinguish between brands. It also argued that uniform health warnings make it easier for criminals to make fake cigarettes.

So-called illicit cigarettes have been a problem in Hong Kong, with the government regularly reporting on cases of “illicit cigarettes’ being smuggled into the city.

Last week Hong Kong Customs reported around 800,000 sticks of suspected illicit cigarettes – concealed in fake soldering devices – were seized from a lorry entering via Lok Ma Chau.

The authorities reported the total market value of the cigarettes was about HK$2.2 million.

The Council on Smoking and Health will submit its petition to the Legislative Council’s health panel on July 6.

Smoking group to protest bigger warnings on packets at July 1 march