• May 21, 2024

Council Urges Steep Tobacco Tax Increase

 Council Urges Steep Tobacco Tax Increase
Photo: Krakenimages.com

Hong Kong’s anti-smoking watchdog has called for a 75 percent increase in tobacco tax to meet international standards, reports the South China Morning Post.

If the tax rate is increased by 75 percent, the smoking rate could decrease by 0.7 percentage points to 8.8 percent, according to the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health. The council added that other control measures would be necessary to bring the city’s smoking rate down to the 7.8 percent goal by next year.

The call for a tax increase comes before next month’s budget. Last year, the tax was increased 31.5 percent.

“Raising tobacco tax should be prioritized for achieving the smoking reduction target,” council chairman Henry Tong Sau-chai said at a press conference.

“[The increase last year] was insufficient to compensate for the price gap caused by the freezing of the tax rate in the previous eight years.”

The World Health Organization has stated that the tax should account for at least three-quarters of the retail price of cigarettes, meaning Hong Kong would need an increase of 75 percent.

“[Hong Kong is] in a really good position to reduce prevalence to the point in getting close to what we call the ‘endgame,’” said Hana Ross, an honorary research associate from the University of Cape Town’s school of economics. 

Forty-one countries, including France, the United Kingdom and Australia, have reached the WHO’s recommended level of tobacco tax.