PLC Paper No. CB(2)196
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration and cleared with the Chairman)
Ref : CB2/BC/19/96

Minutes of the Second Meeting of the Bills Committee on
the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Bill 1997 and
the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1997

held on Thursday, 5 June 1997 at 8:30 am
in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members Present:

    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai (Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon Bruce LIU sing-lee
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen

Members Absent :

    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Dr Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon MOK Ying fan

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Gregory LEUNG, JP
Deputy Secretary for Health & Welfare
Mr Derek B GOULD
Principal Assistant Secretary for Health & Welfare
Miss WONG Yuet-wah
Assistant Secretary for Health & Welfare

Attendance by Invitation :

Department of Community Medicine & Unit for Behavioural Sciences, University of Hong Kong
Professor A J Hedley
Miss CHUNG Siu Fung

Hong Kong Council on Smoking & Health
Professor S H LEE Chairman
Dr Homer TSO Member
Mr Marcus YU Executive Director

Hong Kong College of Paediatricians
Professor C Y YEUNG President

Hong Kong Asthma Society
Dr Alfred TAM
Ms TSUI Tai-min

Lingnan College
Dr David Newman

Hong Kong Medical Association
Dr K H LEE President
Dr LEUNG Chi-chiu

Hong Kong Paediatric Society
Mr M Y CHENG Vice-president

Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong Ltd
Mrs Jenny FUNG Chairman
Mr David SHANNON Legal Counsel
Dr John C LUIK Public Policy Consultant
Mr Chris ROBINSON Market Research Consultant
Ms Hayley KAN Executive Director

British - American Tobacco Co (HK) Ltd
Ms Brenda CHOW Vice president

Philip Morris Hong Kong
Mr Steven CHUNG, General Manager

Hing Lan Cigarette Co Ltd
Mr LO Kwong lai
Mr CHAN Po-lam

Japan Tobacco Inc
Mr Seiki SATOU
Ms Grace CHU

Clerk in Attendance :

Ms Doris CHAN
Chief Assistant Secretary (2)3

Staff in Attendance :

Mr LEE Yu-sung
Senior Assistant Legal Adviser
Miss Flora TAI
Senior Assistant Secretary (2)3

I.Confirmation of minutes of meeting held on 16 May 1997

The draft minutes of the first meeting held on 16 May 1997 had been issued to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2483/96-97. No amendment was received and the minutes were confirmed.

II.Membership of the Bills Committee

2. The Chairman informed members that Hon TSANG Kin-shing and Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling had resigned from the Bills Committee and the quorum for the meeting was now 5 members.

III.Briefing on the Bills by the Administration and Dr Hon LEUNG Che-hung (Member-in-charge)

3. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr Derek GOULD briefed members on the main proposals of the Government’s Bill (No. 2 Bill) which sought to introduce further measures to control the use, sale and promotion of tobacco products as set out in the Legislative Council Brief (File Ref: HW CR 52/581/89 Pt. 23). Dr LEONG Che-hung then proceeded to brief members on his Member’s Bill (No. 1 Bill) which sought to extend the prohibition of tobacco advertisements in all form and manner; and to extend the scope of designated no smoking areas. He pointed out that: (a) there was no doubt that smoking was hazardous to health; (b) there was proof that tobacco smoking contributed to many heart diseases, lung conditions, cancer of the bladder and many other ailments; and (c) Hong Kong was the only area in the region where tobacco advertising was allowed. It was also important to discourage non-smokers particulary young people who were more likely to be influenced by tobacco advertisements from taking up smoking and protect non-smokers from second-hand smoking. He stressed that: (a) tobacco was an addictive product; (b) savings from health-care budget would be greater than any possible loss of revenue; and (c) his Bill only sought to ban advertising under the disguise of sponsorship and did not seek a ban on sponsorship. Although Singapore had been cited as a typical example where the number of young people taking up smoking had not decreased after tobacco advertisement was banned, Dr LEONG cautioned that Singapore was very close to the Malaysian peninsula where tobacco advertising was blatant.

4. In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI’s enquiry, Dr LEONG Che-hung clarified that his Member’s Bill did not seek to ban sponsorship because tobacco companies could still sponsor cultural or sport events by using the company name instead of the brand name of tobacco product. Mrs Selina CHOW queried how a direct and absolute relationship between the protection of public health and the need to restrict freedom to advertise, which was part of the economic activity associated with the sale of a legal product, could be established. Dr LEONG Che-hung responded that the question should be considered as a health issue. Although there might not be a direct link between advertising and public health, the purpose of advertising was to encourage people, particularly young people, to smoke. Mrs Selina CHOW remarked that the Bill should have sought to ban smoking totally. In this regard, Mr Derek GOULD said that the Administration was satisfied by medical evidence that there was a definite connection between smoking and ill health and by the weight of international independent evidence that there was a connection between advertising and smoking. It was therefore considered necessary to restrict advertising in order to reduce the incidences of smoking so as to protect public health. Mrs Selina CHOW suggested that the Administration should draw members’ attention to the evidence which formed the basis of its position. Mr GOULD undertook to provide a summary of the relevant literature for members’ reference.


5. Mrs Selina CHOW was of the view that the Bills Committee should have a chance to explore the economic price the society had to pay if the Bills were introduced. The Chairman therefore suggested that relevant written information could be provided, if available, for members to discuss at a future meeting. In this regard, Dr HUANG Chen-ya cautioned that economic loss to the society as a result of smoking-related diseases should also be considered. Mrs CHOW remarked that the focus should be the likely economic loss directly caused by tobacco advertising.

IV.Meeting with deputations

6. Members noted that the Administration had responded to some of the submissions in its letter dated 3 June 1997, issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2561/96-97. On behalf of the Bills Committee, the Chairman apologised to persons or organisations whose request to address the Bills Committee in greater length could not be acceded to due to the limit of time. She then invited the deputations to present their views to the Bills Committee.

Department of Community Medicine & Unit for Behavioural Sciences, University of Hong Kong

(LegCo Paper Nos. CB(2) 2569/96-97 and CB(2) 2553/96-97(01))

7. At the invitation of the Chairman, Professor A J HEDLEY briefed members on his submission which was issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2569/96-97. He stressed that it was relatively uncommon for an adult smoker to have started after the age of 19 and most of the epidemic of tobacco disease began in childhood and the peak years of adolescence. The crux of the matter therefore was that it was not an adult choice but a paediatric health problem. Miss CHUNG Siu-fung then briefed members on two surveys in respect of evidence on youth smoking and tobacco advertisements and public opinion on banning of tobacco advertisements respectively which had been set out in her submission, issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2553/96-97(01). At the Chairman’s request, Miss CHUNG undertook to provide supplementary materials relating to these two surveys for members’ reference.

(Post-meeting note : The supplementary materials had been issued to members vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2710/96-97(01) on 17 June 1997.)

Miss CHUNG Siu-fung

8. In response to members’ queries as to whether a causative relationship between advertising and smoking could be established as people might take up smoking due to various reasons such as influence of family members, Professor HEDLEY pointed out that there was no doubt that tobacco advertising was targeted at young people. Positive attitudes to smoking had been promoted strongly in tobacco advertising which was very effective in enticing young people to try smoking. Miss CHUNG added that the study about evidence on youth smoking and tobacco advertisements was cross-section and it could not establish a direct causal relationship between the two in a definitive manner. In this regard, the Chairman suggested that further written information on such a causative relationship if available should be provided to facilitate members’ consideration.

Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH)

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2553/96-97(02))

9. At the invitation of the Chairman, Professor S H LEE briefed members on the submission which had been issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2553/96-97(02). The COSH expressed concern on: (a) the increase in the number of children and women smokers as a result of tobacco advertising; and (b) the strategy of tobacco advertising by means of sponsoring sports and cultural activities.

Hong Kong College of Paediatricians

10. Professor C Y YEUNG informed members that the Hong Kong College of Paediatricians supported the Bill put forward by Dr LEONG Che-hung. Professor YEUNG then shared his practising experience with members that many babies delivered to young mothers who smoked were at risk of illness including below average size and weight. He expressed concern that young people in Hong Kong had been subjected to advertising which promoted the unhealthy smoking habit as a healthy and sporty hero-worship type of image.

Hong Kong Asthma Society

11. At the invitation of the Chairman, Dr Alfred TAM briefed members on the submission which was tabled at the meeting and subsequently issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2613/96-97. Ms TSUI Tai-min, whose child suffered from asthma, then proceeded to share her own experience about the detrimental effect of smoking on families and the unfairness of second-hand smoking in particular.

Faculty of Social Science, Lingnan College

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2540/96-97)

12. At the invitation of the Chairman, Dr David NEWMAN briefed members on the Report entitled "The Economic Impact of a Ban on Cigarette Advertising in Hong Kong", which had been issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2540/96-97 in reply to the Coopers and Lybrand Study. He stressed that Coopers and Lybrand Study had untraditionally taken an accounting approach which concluded that as many as 15,000 people would be unemployed if there was a ban on tobacco advertising. However, their own study which had taken a traditional economic approach concluded that a ban would not cost jobs or hurt the economy as tobacco advertising could easily be replaced by advertisements of other products.

Hong Kong Medical Association

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2553/96-97(03))

13. At the invitation of the Chairman, Dr K H LEE briefed members on the submission of the Hong Kong Medical Association which had been issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2553/96-97(03). He stressed that there was no doubt that tobacco was harmful to health. As far as health cost was concerned, 5 percent of the admitted patients in the Hospital Authority’s hospitals every year had smoking-related illnesses and the annual cost ran almost to a billion. If indirect cost, like loss of productivity and premature death, was included, the cost was 3 billion each year. The medical profession believed that advertising was the cause for promoting smoking and supported every measure which would reduce number of smokers and thus the Bill put forward by Dr LEONG Che-hung was supported.

Hong Kong Paediatric Society

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2504/96-97(13))

14. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr M Y CHENG briefed members on the submission which had been issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2504/96-97(13). Mr CHENG urged members to support the Bill put forward by Dr LEONG Che-hung which proposed a total ban on tobacco advertising on the grounds that it would bring benefit to the future generation and set a positive example to other areas in the world, particularly the South China region.

Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong Limited

British-American Tobacco Company (HK) Limited

Philip Morris Hong Kong Limited

(LegCo Paper Nos CB(2) 2549/96-97, CB(2) 2553/96-97(06) & CB(2) 2522/96-97)

15. At the invitation of the Chairman, Dr John LUIK, Mr David SHANNON and Mr Chris ROBINSON briefly explained their arguments on the Bills as set out in the submission by the Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong Limited, issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2549/96-97. Dr LUIK highlighted that: (a) all the independent evidence available concluded that tobacco advertising, which was targeted at brand switching, did not lead to an increase in tobacco aggregate consumption; (b) there was no compelling evidence to suggest that tobacco advertising was a statistically significant predictor of youth smoking; and (c) track records in other countries had proven that a ban on tobacco advertising would not stop people from smoking and actually youth smoking increased in Canada during the advertising ban. He reminded members that there were a number of alternative measures which could deal with the problem of youth smoking such as overcoming illiteracy among young people, improvement of their refusal skill and self-esteem. Mr SHANNON then highlighted three legal points for members to consider: (a) these Bills were inconsistent with the Bill of Rights; (b) they violated Hong Kong’s international trademark obligations; and (c) they were defective from the perspectives of drafting and public policy. He cautioned that Article 16 of the Bill of Rights protected the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and idea of all kinds, the restriction of which could only be justified by permissible purposes including public health. However, the Canadian Supreme Court had ruled on the constitutionality of a similar ban on tobacco advertising in the case of RJR-MacDonald Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General) and concluded that the government had failed to demonstrate that such a ban was necessary in order to achieve its public health objectives. Mr Chris ROBINSON proceeded to brief members on the study entitled "Public Attitudes to Youth Smoking and Effective Policies to Manage this Community Concern" (the Study) which was conducted in April 1996 by the Market Behaviour (Hong Kong) Limited. The Study illustrated that: (a) the adult community in Hong Kong believed that the major factor influencing young people to start smoking cigarettes was influence from peers, friends and family members; (b) they strongly believed that for more effect, Government policies for reducing youth smoking should focus on education in schools, media and at home; and (c) advertising ban was not considered as an effective policy choice for discouraging young people from starting smoking.

16. Mrs Jenny FUNG concluded the presentation by reiterating that the tobacco industry opposed the two Bills on the grounds that: (a) advertising bans did not work in reducing youth smoking or in reducing the overall consumption of tobacco; (b) they were unconstitutional and unnecessary; and (c) they contravened the Bill of Rights in Hong Kong.

17. Dr. LEONG Che-hung suggested and Mr ROBINSON agreed to provide the set of questions used in the Study for members’ reference. In this connection, Dr LEONG also queried the validity of the Study as it was focused on adults’ perception of young people. Tobaco Institute of Hong Kong Limited

Hing Lan Cigarette Co Ltd

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2553/96-97(05))

18. At the invitation of the Chairman, Mr LO Kwong-lai briefed members on the submission, issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2553/96-97(05), which represented the views of wholesalers and retailers in the tobacco industry. In this connection, Mr LO presented to the Bills Committee a total of 5,773 signatures collected from wholesalers and retailers. Mr CHAN Po-lam then shared with members his experience as a hawker selling cigarettes. He urged members to consider that small individual retailers had already been hard hit by contraband cigarettes and the Bills would also affect adversely their income and livelihood to a great extent. In response to members’ enquiries, Mr CHAN said that he would lose a monthly income of about $6 000 - $ 7 000 if displaying flags or an umbrella showing the brand name at their stalls and the giving-away of small advertisement gifts were prohibited. Mr LO also pointed out that the Bill put forward by Dr LEONG Che-hung seemed to ban any display of cigarettes for sale which would mean an absurd intervention in normal commercial activities.

Japan Tobacco Inc.

(LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2567/96-97)

19. Members noted the submission from the Japan Tobacco Inc., issued vide LegCo Paper No. CB(2) 2567/96-97. Ms Grace CHU highlighted that the drafting of clause 8(d) of the Bill No. 2 would not serve its intended purpose because use of brand name would not confuse consumers who could always refer to the product descriptions on cigarette packets for tar content. She stressed that the name "MILD SEVEN" was the registered Trade Mark of her company which did not serve as any descriptive indication as to the tar content of cigarettes, as evidenced by the Chinese translation of the name.

V.Any other business

20. The Chairman reminded members that the Second Reading debate on the Bills would be resumed on 23 June 1997. In this regard, the deadlines for giving notice of resumption of the Second Reading debate and of Committee stage amendments would be 6 June and 13 June 1997 respectively.

VI.Date of next meeting

21. The Chairman reminded members that the next meeting would be held on the following day, 6 June 1997, from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm to meet other deputations.

22. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 11:00 am.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
6 July 1997

Last Updated on 20 October 1997