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The government of Hong Kong is looking to increase the size of warnings to 85% of the surface of tobacco packets. However the government would also like to retain a display which states the quantifiable amounts of harmful substances, such as tar, that the cigarettes contain, a measure that is against the World Health Organization’s (WHO), guidelines.

The WHO guidelines for implementing Article 11 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, do not include listing quantitative statements about tobacco constituents and emissions, as these lists might imply one brand is safer than another.

Shouldn’t people know what they’re inhaling?

The Food and Health Bureau called the government’s stance a “progressive approach”, adding that it is necessary to retain this information in order for the public to be aware of the harmful substances that are contained in cigarettes
The the government’s proposals have been under discussion by the Legislative Council’s panel on health services since last December, and a public hearing for stakeholders and members of the public was held last January. Legislators have questioned why the government is against removing the displays containing the amounts of harmful substances.

 

In a panel meeting that took place on the 28th of February, an official from the Food and Health Bureau called the government’s stance a “progressive approach”, adding that it is necessary to retain this information in order for the public to be aware of the harmful substances that are contained in cigarettes.

Criticised for the not following “expert advice”, but is the WHO always right?

An article published last Sunday on the South China Morning Post criticised this stance, saying that the government should adhere to the WHO’s “international guidelines and expert advice”. However several public health experts would agree that unfortunately, despite the organization’s reputable status, the measures it suggests are not always necessarily the most appropriate.

The UK, is a country renowned for leading the way in endorsing vaping products as smoking cessation tools, and achieving a great outcome by reporting the lowest number of smokers ever recorded as a result. However, last November, UK authorities were told by the World Health Organization to reconsider their position and ban the products, instead of being given a well deserved pat on the back, for saving a significant number of lives that would have otherwise been lost to smoking.