If you’ve been thinking for a while about quitting smoking (or have a friend or relative who wants to), here is your Healthy Matters guide with all you need to know to make it happen!
How many people smoke in Hong Kong?
From the most recent study carried out by the Hong Kong Census and Statistic Department, there are around 667,500 smokers in Hong Kong. Out of this figure, 93% reported to be daily smokers, while some 7% smoke occasionally. The age range of smokers included in the study range from 15 years onwards, and it was stated that there are likely to be higher numbers of smokers in consideration of those who may not wish to report about their smoking habits.
In the study, about 275,000 people were found to have quit smoking. Their reported reasons for quitting smoking include “health has already been harmed from smoking” (34.5%), “wanting to prevent health from being harmed by smoking” (33.2%), and “objection from family members / concern for exposing family and friends to secondary smoke” (26.9%), as well as other reasons regarding doctor’s advice, costs of tobacco products, and setting an example to children.
Reminder: what are the risks of smoking?
Smoking has continually been linked to an extensive range of health concerns for decades. Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, and exposure of the body to these chemicals greatly impacts the effective daily functioning of the body and contributes to many health risks. The health risks that can result from continuous smoking habits vary from long-term to immediate effects. With regards to the short-term and immediate adverse effects, other than shortness of breath, heightened heart rate, other effects also include lower self-reported health, and greater susceptibility to acute illnesses and respiratory symptoms, which can lead to absence from school and work. Long-term impacts that result from a regular smoking habit include respiratory diseases, coronary heart disease, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is a progressive form of lung disease that worsens over time. These health risks are not only applicable to those who smoke, but also the people around smokers who are exposed to the secondary smoke produced from smoking.
The age at which one begins smoking can also contribute to varying health risks to the individual. If someone begins to smoke or was exposed to secondary smoke during childhood or adolescence, this can negatively impact the development and effective functioning of body parts as well as vital organs, and hinder their progressions into adulthood, giving rise to more health risks in the long run. In the case that someone smokes during pregnancy, the foetus is also susceptible to the various developmental problems, and can even lead to premature birth, low birth weight, or defects of the mouth and lip. While cardiovascular diseases are the more prominent causes of death in smoking adults, it is found that smoking in elderly over the age of 60 are more likely to die from lung cancer.
Smoking and lung cancer
Smoking is sadly associated with one of the top death-causing cancers in Hong Kong. Lung cancer has been a leading cause of cancer deaths since the 1980s. The alarmingly high mortality rate of lung cancer is due to the lack of visibility of symptoms during early stages of the disease. By the time the disease can be diagnosed, it may be more difficult to receive timely treatment.
You can read more about lung cancer and its treatment options in Hong Kong – reviewed by an oncologist – here:
Smoking and COVID-19: what are the risks?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease that is spreadable through the air and can be passed on through person-to-person contact or through direct contact with respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The process of smoking causes damage to lung tissues and can adversely impact the protective functions of the lungs in removing toxins and harmful substances, weakening the immune system.
You can read about the connections between smoking and COVID-19 here:
Popular methods to help you quit smoking in Hong Kong
– Nicotine Replacement Therapy is a method that involves temporarily replacing the source of nicotine from tobacco, and makes use of patches, gums, lozenges or inhalers instead. This minimises the urge to use cigarettes for nicotine, and switches the physical behaviour to others and eases the smoker into stopping eventually. These replacements are generally well tolerated and come with few side effects, and are often incorporated in cessation programs, you can find these through the links provided below.
– Smoking cessation medications tend to involve prescription medicine that is free of nicotine, and is supposed to influence neurotransmitters in the brain to maintain your moods during withdrawal periods. The more common ones in Hong Kong include varenicline (also known as Champix) and bupropion. Cessation medications are commonly prescribed in accompaniment of therapy.
– Hypnosis has become an increasingly popular method people use to quit smoking. It involves the use of hypnotherapy, where the patient is guided and encouraged into relaxation. Hypnosis cessation operates as a program and has been found to yield successful results similar to counselling for cessation.
You can try hypnosis cessation at the below locations:
– Acupuncture is also a popular method people use to quit smoking in Hong Kong, and is widely accessible across 90 locations. Acupuncturists will apply needles to specific acupoints around the body, which is supposed to ease tension from those areas and eventually reduce the craving to smoke. Treatment periods tend to last around 8 weeks, and may be used in conjunction with counselling sessions.
Here are some places in Hong Kong which offer acupuncture as a way to stop smoking:
William Lo – Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner
Flat 01, 22/F, The Righteous Centre, Nathan Road 585, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Phone: 2386 6388
Email: [email protected]
Pok Oi Smoking Cessation Service using traditional Chinese medicine and Acupuncture
Phone: 2607 1222 / 2416 7721
Email: [email protected]
Website: here (Chinese version)
– Mediation involves conversational approaches to support the process of cessation. There are many hotlines and text services that have been supporting people to quit smoking all across Hong Kong.
Some of these include:
“Quitline” (Smoking Counselling and Cessation Hotline)
Phone: 2300 7272
Youth Quitline of the University of Hong Kong
Phone: 2855 9557 / 5111 4333 (also available for whatsapp)
Hong Kong organisations offering services to help you quit smoking
Here are several other organisations that provide a wide range of services in support of your smoking cessation process:
Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline of the Department of Health
Phone: 1833 183 (Press 1)
United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service Smoke Free Club
Phone: 3156 9012
Women Smoking Cessation Service of the University of Hong Kong
Phone: 3917 6658 / 6752 6266