Smokers hot under the collar over tobacco tax

Local writer, commentator and avid smoker Mer Lee Cho-kwan has rallied pro-smoking groups to oppose further increases in tobacco tax.

“The cigarette is my best partner. I will be furious if the government increases the tax,” said Lee, convener of the two- year-old I Smoke Alliance and a smoker for 35 years.

A petition opposing further tax hikes was jointly organized in Mong Kok yesterday by the alliance and Momentum 107.

“A pack of cigarettes costs HK$39 while a pack of illicit cigarettes costs from HK$20 to HK$30. Rich people can still afford theirs but poor people need to buy the illicit cigarettes,” said Lee, who spends HK$1,600 a month on her habit.

The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health has called on the financial secretary to raise the tobacco tax from 62 percent to at least 75 percent of the retail price to discourage young people and encourage smokers to kick the habit.

“If the government increases the tobacco tax rate to 75 percent, a marlboro pack of cigarettes would cost HK$60,” said Ho Man- kit, founder and convener of Momentum 107.

Yesterday’s event also attracted the support of non-smokers.

A non-smoker, surnamed Ng, said he signed the petition because he believes there should be room for smokers to live their lifestyles as long as they do not affect others. “They have their lifestyles and we should respect them,” Ng said.


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