Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide. Smoking cessation can reduce the health risks in smokers, but quitters often have difficulties in staying smoke-free and are prone to relapse. A recent study showed that tobacco tax increase is effective in promoting long-term cessation.
Japan increased cigarette prices by 11% in 2006 and 37% in 2010. A study followed up over 43,000 middle-aged smokers from 2005 to 2014, and examined the cigarette price increase in relation to short-term and long-term smoking cessation. Compared with the years of no price increase, the rates of temporarily, at-least-1-year and at-least-2-year quitting increased after price increase. A higher quit rate was observed for greater price increase that smokers were 23% and 85% more likely to have quitted for at least 2 years after the price increase in 2006 and 2010, respectively. The results showed that tobacco tax increase is effective in not only promoting cessation but also helping quitters to stay smoke-free in the long term, i.e. preventing quitters from relapse.
The tobacco tax in Hong Kong has been frozen in most of the years in the past 2 decades and remains at HK$38 per pack since 2014. After discounting inflation and income growth, the current cigarette price in Hong Kong is even more affordable when compared to that in the 1990s. COSH strongly urges the Hong Kong Government to increase tobacco tax substantially and set an annual tax increase mechanism to motivate smokers to quit and deter smoking uptake in youth. 

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