Hong Kong Public Health Expert Suggests a Raise in Tobacco Tax

Dr. Daniel Ho Sai-yin from the University of Hong Kong’s school of public health, believes that a significant raise in the local tobacco tax would help decrease local smoking rates.

Dr. Ho Sai-yin is suggesting doubling the tax on cigarette packs to HK$76 (US$9.70) each, which would push the retail price to roughly HK$97. He thinks that local authorities should also consider issuing ‘smoking’ permits to ensure that the desired reduction rates are met.

The associate professor, who is also a member of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, says that implementing bolder steps would help reach Hong Kong’s goal of decreasing smoking rates to 5% while reaching a midway goal of 7.8% by 2025.

The effects of cigarette and vape taxes
Meanwhile, a recent study published in the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, looking at the effects of traditional cigarette and e-cigarette tax rates on adult tobacco consumption rates, found that increased tax rates on vaping products are directly proportional to increased smoking rates.

The study titled, “The effects of traditional cigarette and e-cigarette tax rates on adult tobacco product use,” analysed the effects of taxes on traditional cigarettes and vaping products, on use patterns of these same products among adults in the United States. The researchers examined data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), over the period from 2011 to 2018.

The research found evidence that higher taxes on traditional cigarettes reduce adult smoking and increase adult e-cigarette use. Similarly, higher e-cigarette tax rates increased traditional cigarette use and reduced vaping.

“Cross-tax effects imply that the products are economic substitutes. Our results suggest that a proposed national e-cigarette tax of $1.65 per millilitre of vaping liquid would raise the proportion of adults who smoke cigarettes daily by approximately 1 percentage point, translating to 2.5 million extra adult daily smokers compared to the counterfactual of not having the tax,” read the study Abstract.