The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health has recommended that a tax hike should be used to push the price of cigarettes from about HK$57 a pack to HK$100 a pack, according to a story by Riley Chan for the Hong Kong Standard.
The Council, described as a policy advisory body, called for the hike after it saw the results of a survey it commissioned from the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong (HKU): The Tobacco Control Policy-related Survey 2017.
The survey researchers interviewed by telephone 2,002 people aged 15 and older from April to October this year.
They were said to have found that more than 80 percent, 5.7 percent of them smokers, supported an increase in tobacco tax next year.
More than 70 percent suggested that the tax should be increased annually.
Of the 298 smokers, 47.3 percent agreed that an increase in the retail price would encourage them to quit smoking.
The average increase in price suggested would take the price of a pack of cigarettes to HK$100.
Currently, leading brand cigarettes are sold for HK$57 a pack, where tax accounts for 67 percent, or HK$38, of the price.
To drive the price of cigarettes higher, the Council called on the government to double the tax, which is lower than the 75 percent recommended by the World Health Organization.
Lam Tai-hing, chair professor of community medicine at HKU, said the current price was much lower than that in other developed regions.
In Singapore, a pack of cigarettes was priced at the equivalent of HK$75, while in Britain and Australia, prices were HK$94 and HK$154 respectively.
“Looking at the retail price in other countries and the tobacco tax increase in recent years, we don’t think doubling the tax is too much to ask for,” Lam said.