HONG KONG -- An international conference entitled "Towards a Tobacco Endgame in Hong Kong" was held here on Friday to mark the 35th year milestone for tobacco control in the region and prepare a blueprint for a smoke-free Hong Kong.

The conference, jointly held by the Department of Health of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government and the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH), invited local and overseas experts to exchange ideas and share research findings on topics such as effective tobacco control measures for working towards a tobacco endgame and emerging challenges of electronic cigarettes and other novel smoking products.

Officiating at the opening ceremony, the HKSAR government's Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said that the HKSAR government's tobacco control policy aims to safeguard public health by discouraging smoking, containing the proliferation of tobacco use and minimizing the impact of passive smoking on the public.

"We adopt a multi-pronged approach, comprising legislation, enforcement, publicity, education, smoking cessation services and taxation. All of these efforts have added up together to bring down the smoking prevalence rate from 23.3 percent in early 1982 to 10.5 percent in 2015," Chan said.

Also addressing the ceremony, the HKSAR government's Director of Health Constance Chan said that Hong Kong has made "considerable progress" in tobacco control during the past 35 years, and "we need to continue to work together to fight against a giant that is producing products that are harmful to health and polluting our environment".

"An increasing number of novel smoking products are being marketed with unproven claims that they are healthier alternatives to cigarettes," she said. "In the absence of information on their health impacts at both individual and population levels, we need to put greater efforts to address the emerging challenges of these products."

She added that her department aims to "bring down the smoking prevalence rate from 10.5 percent in 2015 further to a single-digit figure".


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