In 1987, World Health Organization's recommended Hong Kong to form a central council to co-ordinate measures against tobacco use. The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) was thus established under its own ordinance. There are eight main aims of COSH as follow, protect and improve community's health by promoting a tobacco-free lifestyle and by working towards a tobacco-free community in HK. It held some campaigns for actions tobacco use and advocate for the control of tobacco marketing and promotions, especially to the young.
COSH also inform and educate the public about the harm of tobacco use, prevent non-smokers from taking up smoking, protect the health of non-smokers from the hazard of passive smoking and promotes quitting among smokers. Moreover, it engages in, promote, and commission research into the causes, prevention and cure of tobacco dependence and its adverse effects and related diseases, and publish the results of such research. What COSH did to meet its aims?
For the aim of protecting and improving the health of the community, COSH held "Let's Create Smoke-Free Environment" Carnival 1 which including colour contest, slogan contest and smoke-free poster design protest, it helps to raise public awareness on the harmful consequences of smoking and passive smoking. Also it held Smoke-free New Century Programme2 to promote the smoke-free message, hundreds of teenagers jointly created a number of colourful oil paintings on the theme of "Paint the smoke-free new century", brought the community together and encouraged the public the say "no" to smoking.
About the aim of campaign for actions to stops tobacco use, No-Smoking Month in the Workplace3aims at encouraging employers to introduce and implement a smoke-free workplace policy. The campaign slogan: "Work joyfully, being tobacco-free" appeals to all smokers in the working population to stop smoking in the Month of May and to enjoy a fresh and joyful working environment with their fellow colleagues.
The campaign will also provide non-smokers an opportunity to indicate to the management and their smoking colleagues, through supporting the Day, their desire for a smoke-free working environment. COSH criticizes international tobacco companies for Exploiting the World Cup to promote cigarette sales4to advocate for the control of tobacco marketing and promotions, especially to the young. COSH openly criticizes international tobacco companies for using the World Cup football competition to market cigarettes to the youth.
The government should put forward legislative amendments that the tobacco industry should comprise a total advertising ban, including brand extension promotion on tobacco products and packaging of cigarettes should be de-glamorized and inserted with health warnings and messages that are relevant to the actual harm caused by tobacco. COSH also promoted school educational and promotional activities5 to inform and educate the public about the harm of tobacco use and prevent non-smokers from taking up smoking.
For the School Health Talk Programme, in 2002-03 a total of 182 health talks were organized by the Council that covering more than 50000 students. And there are many different kinds of education materials like audio-visual education kits, exhibition panels, information on smoking and health, tobacco control, video cassettes, VCD etc. Many services provided by COSH to promote quitting among smokers6, like "The Quitline" which is the first smoking cessation counselling hotline service in Hong Kong. Four clinics of Department of Health are providing Smoking Cessation Program.
Many reports7 can show the engage in, promote, and commission research into the cause, prevention and cure of tobacco dependence and its adverse effects and related diseases, and publish the results of such research. Overall COSH performances are satisfied. Under such aims, COSH has taken up the role as an active player and commentator on all issues relating to tobacco control. Since the COSH established, it has called for a much improved strategic plan to prevent passive smoking, such as annual reports, survey reports, exhibition panels, various posters leaflets and booklets, etc.
However, one of the aims "Protect the health of non-smokers from the hazard of passive smoking" still not do well. For the report8 released by COSH, information provided by the students has been used to assess current patterns of smoking in Hong Kong junior secondary school students; trends in their use of tobacco and their preferences for brands in relation to the attractiveness of advertisements; and to study the relationship between smoking and respiratory symptoms.
The small delay in starting experimenting and the small decrease in experimenters could be due to some limited success resulting from the efforts in preventing children from starting or experimenting with smoking. However, among those who did start to experiment, more have become current smokers. This increasing trend of current smoking is particularly serious among female students.
The aims of smoking prevention should therefore include prevention of experimenting, as well as preventing continued smoking among those who have experimented. Special efforts are needed to prevent smoking in girls. Another report released by COSH show a total of 1,078 respondents were interviewed through telephone from Nov. 1999 to Jan. 2000 and 69% of the respondents claimed that they were often or sometimes exposed to passive smoking9. Health education about the hazards of smoking and passive smoking should continue.
This survey shows important gaps in public knowledge about the hazards of smoking. These should be addressed urgently. For example, a new wave of health education should focus on the fact that smoking damages respiratory and sexual health, causes many different cancers in addition to lung cancer, and rapid aging of the skin. For the above data show that it is not enough public awareness for protect the health of non-smokers from the hazard of passive smoking.