Smoking control is an important issue in present-day society that evokes various critical matters concerning the multifaceted relationship between the restrictions, the individual choice, the state’s responsibilities, and the public welfare. Nonetheless, discussions and tactics in response to the damage caused by cigarettes differ among nations. The essay discusses the ways of establishing the tobacco restraining system in Hong Kong through three key strategies: community participation, intersectoral collaboration, and equity. Such management is a historical practice that continues to gain popularity at the macro level (public authorities, lawmakers, the media, academia, non-governmental organizations, and public health), as well as at the micro level (individuals, families, public figures, and the community).
The term tobacco control, as used in the essay, refers to the regulatory rule that aims at decreasing or abolishing the tobacco use, mainly focusing on cigarette smoking. The Health Systems Trust website describes the intersectoral collaboration as the promotion and management of the activities of diverse sectors for reducing health inequity (Vishal, 1998). The combined areas may include education, agriculture, environment, water and sanitation. Moreover, the World Health Organization describes the community participation as a meaningful engagement with the society for the promotion of health in all stages of health intervention (Vishal, 1998).
The end of the twentieth century foresaw the unanimity among scientists, health officials, and the public about the destruction caused by cigarette smoking. Since then, increasingly limiting tobacco regulations have been introduced in the modern-day industrialized governments (Lam & He, 2014, p. 1075). The most extreme health challenges for Hong Kong today are complex, intricately linked, and have complicated solutions, such as obesity, chronic illnesses, rising health care costs, and growing inequality. Meanwhile, critical environmental concerns, such as climate change, loss of habitat, and earthquakes threaten to worsen existing issues and introduce new levels of health challenges.
Developments in Hong Kong’s economic, social, and service sectors may help preserve healthy opportunities and sustain a sound behavior. Nonetheless, specialized agencies hardly ever have the decree, authority, or capacity to alter policies, systems, or environmental changes that could promote healthy environments through wholesome living. Solutions to such urgent problems may necessitate collaborative efforts across all sectors at every level, including businesses, schools, government agencies, and community-based organizations.
In the last four decades, there has been a steady decline within the smoking population in Hong Kong. Accordingly, since the 1960s the authorities have been actively involved in inhibiting cigarette smoking through available channels that included legislation, taxation, and public education (Farsalinos, 2015). The Hong Kong government has taken strategic steps to enhance public care since the early 1990s. As a result, in 2008 a proposal for restructuring the health care system through improving the primary care was announced in the government document titled Your Health, Your Life (Farsalinos, 2015). After consulting with the general public on the issue, the proposal gained the unanimous support (Farsalinos, 2015). Among other health-related approaches, it included the monitoring of the consumption, sale, and marketing of cigarettes via other legislations and codes. One of the codes worth mentioning is the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance, which preserves workers’ health from the secondhand smoke.
The Public Health Ordinance on smoking was first sanctioned in 1982 and has since been amended to consolidate the legislative regulation over cigarette smoking (Farsalinos, 2015). Owing to the Health Ordinance, the majority of public places in Hong Kong is smoke-free, despite being indoors or outdoors. However, a long and complicated process had led to such accomplishments, for instance, it started with prohibiting smoking in public elevators; then public transport and cinemas; afterwards, in shopping malls and banking halls; finally achieving workplaces, restaurants, schools, and public parks (Farsalinos, 2015).
Cigarette sale and production, as well as the population’s smoking behavior, have been under the close supervision provided by the government and by the medical experts. As a result, the modern public largely disregards and rejects its subjects and act of smoking itself (Farsalinos, 2015). The intersectoral collaboration is considered to be an effective method for the tobacco monitoring in Hon Kong.
The management of tobacco in Hong Kong is achieved through intersectoral collaboration, which was implemented by the Department of Health`s introduction of a Tobacco Control Office (TCO) in 2001 (Farsalinos, 2015). The primary objective of the TCO is to promote a smoke-free culture in the country through intersectoral collaboration (Farsalinos, 2015). To ensure such engagement, the TCO should have a set of goals to enact. For instance, the TCO should supervise the level of compliance with the Public Health Ordinance and introduce anti-smoking education services to the public. In addition, the TCO should support the Health, Welfare, and Food Bureau in evaluating the policy (Farsalinos, 2015).
The TCO has made some efforts in accomplishing its goals by conducting a Security Guard Training Workshop on Public Health Ordinance and smoke-free Workplace Workshop in 2003 (Farsalinos, 2015). The workshop objectives were to publicize smoke-free messages by targeting security guards and frontline management of non-smoking zones. The task groups broadcast the legal understanding and aided the enforcement of the smoking policies (Farsalinos, 2015).
Educational efforts through mass media represent another way of tobacco surveillance through intersectoral collaboration. In detail, tobacco addiction is a health problem that for the last two decades received constant, diverse media coverage through topical public service statements (Xiao, Chen, & Wang, 2013, p. 1964). However, a severe competition from new areas diminished the number of available channels at convenient times. Consequently, it stimulated the anti-tobacco messages being broadcast as paid advertisements instead of collaborative undertakings between sectors (Xiao, Chen, & Wang, 2013, p. 1964).
Essentially, the priorities of the public service announcements should be reestablished in a way that allows better transactions of anti-smoking messages to the public at strategic times in the mass media. Increasing and lengthening the number of channels, as well as regarding the campaign as a collaborative activity, could be a decisive step towards the accomplishing of full smoking intendance in Hong Kong through intersectoral collaboration (Xiao, Chen, & Wang, 2013, p. 1966). Nevertheless, an alternative way for such procedure lies through the community participation.
The history of the effective public health practice has confirmed that active and organized involvement of varied community resources is the principal basis for the settlement of serious issues like the tobacco use. Constructively, the research has revealed the significance of community participation at lowest levels in executing some of the most effective policy interventions (Lam & He, 2014, p. 1074). They include raising the unit price of all tobacco products, as well as establishing a smoke-free public and private environments.
Community participation in a smoke-free environment leads to healthy schools, estates, workplaces, cities, and hospitals. To this point, the Government of Hong Kong has devoted numerous efforts in advocating the smoke-free environment by involving schoolchildren in the Hong Kong Health Schools Award, and promoting a healthy city for elderly people through the Tseung Kwan O Healthy City program (Lam & He, 2014, p. 1075).
Aside from that, universities are also considered to be effective avenues to promote health, as they obtain the capacity to encourage and preserve the health of both students and staff, as well as to establish health-conducive learning, working, and living environments. Moreover, academic institutions can serve as platforms to advance sustainability, encourage health promotion in the various courses and researches, and be an agent for the community’s well-being. In the present day, the greatest interest and passion for health promoting has been observed in the major universities in Europe, such as the United Kingdom’s University of Central Lancashire, commencing such projects (Lam & He, 2014, p. 1075).
Another major factor is that parents in Hong Kong need to get involved in their children’s schools and communities. Similarly, parents need to collaborate with teachers, fellow parents, and organizations in order to attain set goals for making youth and the community tobacco free (Huang, Ho, Wang, & Lam, 2013, p. 323). Their involvement in the smoking would improve the efforts of teachers, parents, and community leaders while also influencing others around them. In addition, social norms represent the power that can alter the behavior by creating the social and the legal surroundings in which detrimental products and behaviors like tobacco use become less desirable and acceptable (Huang et al., 2013, p. 323).
Furthermore, the establishing of an efficient health impact pyramid can provide a framework of health advancement through various kinds of public health interventions. Significant improvements may come from actions centered on a policy change that builds a general structure in which the healthy lifestyles are easy to realize. Thus, community involvement has become a fundamental element of nationwide programs. A supplementary way to ensure tobacco-free society in Hong Kong is achieving equity.
Decreasing tobacco-related disparities in Hong Kong is a necessary component of the all-inclusive smoke control program. The inequality of such kind is prevalent among those groups of population that are involved with major tobacco-related attributes, such as patterns, deterrence, and remedy in tobacco use (Thomas et al., 2008, p. 230). Others may include infrastructure, capacity, access to resources, as well as second-hand smoke exposure. One of the goals of tobacco control programs is distinguishing and abolishing tobacco-related imbalance (Thomas et al., 2008, p. 230). However, to achieve the goal, they should be implemented as impartially beneficial for everyone.
Undertakings focused on realizing equity and eradicating tobacco-related disparities may help hasten the decline in tobacco use incidences and access to efficient cessation treatments. Accelerating such procedures will hence moderate the uneven health and economical severity felt by some groups in Hong Kong (Thomas et al., 2008, p. 231). Tobacco-related discrepancies may affect different social groups based age, abilities, educational achievements, occupation, income and social class, geographic location, mental health status, gender identity, history of substance abuse (Thomas et al., 2008, p. 233).
To achieve equity and eradicate tobacco-related prejudice, the Government of Hong Kong should create institutions to produce resources and interventions (Lam & He, 2014, p. 1075). Secondly, there should be minimal publicity to the targeted tobacco industry in regards to finance and advertising (Lam & He, 2014, p. 1075). Additionally, comprehensive health coverage for tobacco dependence therapies should be easily accessible(Lam & He, 2014, p. 1075). Lastly, necessary efforts should be made to eradicate tobacco-related disparities in every chronic disease prevention area in Hong Kong (Lam & He, 2014, p. 1075).
In conclusion, this article demonstrates that tobacco control is broadly constructed. It also confirms that public health dialogues are crucial, but do not have the influence to make cigarettes necessary objects of surveillance in Hong Kong. Such monitoring involves a set of concepts, including citizenship, freedom, and identity, as well as individual rights. Such notions produce a variety of symbolic implications of the act of smoking cigarettes as particularly undesirable for users and for non-smokers alike. Despite the unrelenting skepticism and hostility, the prevailing discourse on tobacco usage has gradually moved to being unbecoming, restraining the conflicting views of smokers in Hong Kong.