Hong Kong’s smoking prevalence rate has dropped to a new low of under 10 per cent, but the usage frequency of e-cigarettes has increased “significantly” by nearly 1.5 times in the past two years, reports The Star.
Health authorities have said the city’s latest smoking rate was at 9.5 per cent in 2021, down from 10.2 per cent in 2019. The government had previously set a target of 7.8 per cent by 2025. “The [latest smoking rate] is a new low, and it is the first time we are seeing a single digit since records began,” Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said.
The number of e-cigarettes users increased from 7,200 in 2019 to 17,500 last year, but the overall statistics for tobacco users recorded a decline. Last year, about 8,400 people used such products compared to 13,100 in 2019.
Chan revealed that the government was planning to adopt a three-pronged approach in its control strategy, drawing on experiences from overseas. These include expanding statutory non-smoking areas, reducing the overall attractiveness of tobacco products and preventing young people from developing smoking habits, the report said.
Citing New Zealand, Chan said a ban on cigarette sales was set to be imposed on those born after 2008. Earlier this week, she announced that the government was considering expanding outdoor no-smoking areas to cover bus stops.
To further reduce the city’s smoking rate, authorities have officially banned the import, manufacturing, sale and distribution of alternative smoking products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products since 30 April.