A health expert from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has suggested that cigarettes should be classified as a drug to further strengthen the government's efforts to control smoking in the city.
In a recent RTHK program, Daniel Ho Sai-yin, an associate professor from HKU's School of Public Health, threw his support behind the government's "endgame" for smoke control, which aims to ban the sale of tobacco products to individuals born after a certain date.
Ho argued that the government's proposal does not infringe on citizens' human rights, citing the example of seatbelts and COVID
-19 vaccination requirements.
"When it comes to public health, there is no absolute freedom," Ho said.
"We have to make regulations to protect public health." The expert also emphasized the urgency of implementing the strategies outlined in the Health Bureau's consultation document, including banning people from smoking while walking.
Ho pointed out that the government only has a few years left to achieve its goal of reducing the smoking prevalence to 7.8% by 2025.
However, another guest on the program, legislator Peter Shiu Ka-fai, cautioned against imposing extreme measures such as raising the penalty for littering to HK$100,000 or raising tobacco duties to an unaffordable level for grassroots consumers.
Shiu emphasized the need for a balanced approach to smoking control, involving discussions on which measures to implement.
In conclusion, the HKU expert's suggestion to categorize cigarettes as a drug highlights the need for a comprehensive approach to smoking control in Hong Kong.
While some may support stricter measures, it is important to find a balance between protecting public health and respecting citizens' rights.