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"Be a Smoke-free Athlete" Say no to cigarette and do exercise
World Health Organization has designated 31 May as World No Tobacco Day every year. The focus in 2018 is “Tobacco and heart disease” aiming to increase public awareness on the link between tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, and heart and other cardiovascular diseases. Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) will launch a publicity programme with the theme of “Be a Smoke-free Athlete” to encourage the public to say no to cigarettes, as well as support their family and friends to replace smoking by a healthy habit such as participating in various kinds of sports to resist the tobacco craving and improve heart health.

The kick-off event was held today (20 May). Officiating guests included Dr CHUI Tak-yi, Acting Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Cindy LAI, Acting Director of Health, Antonio KWONG, COSH Chairman and Yolanda NG, COSH Vice-chairman.

Dr CHUI Tak-yi, Acting Secretary for Food and Health encouraged the public to be a “Smoke-free Athlete”. He remarked that smoking now kills around seven million people a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), of which nearly 900,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing secondhand smoke.

Dr CHUI also pointed out that the Government launched the “Towards 2025: Strategy and Action Plan to Prevent and Control Non-communicable Diseases in Hong Kong” to combat the threat posed by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and align with the WHO’s “Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCD 2013-2020” . The new strategy and action plan will focus on four NCDs and four shared behavioural risk factors. Tobacco Use is one of the behavioural risk factors. It is crucial to stay away from tobacco. The Government is committed to reducing tobacco use through a multi-pronged approach including legislation, publicity and education, law enforcement, promoting smoking cessation and taxation to protect the public health.

“COSH invites the public to be a ‘Smoke-free Athlete’ to say no to cigarettes and do more exercises, as well as encourage their family and friends to replace smoking by doing various kinds of sports. It was found that peer pressure, easing tension and killing time were some of the most commonly cited reasons for starting to smoke and failing to quit smoking. All of these needs can actually be fulfilled by doing exercises which can also improve cardiopulmonary efficiency and health. Some studies also claimed that exercise could raise the success rate of quit attempt. The performance of quitters on various sports will also be enhanced.” said Antonio KWONG, COSH Chairman. COSH programmes will echo the theme of “Smoke-free Athlete” this year and a “Smoke-free Run” will be held in January 2019. Details will be announced later.

Besides, Prof LAM Tai-hing of School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong and Dr LOUIE Hung-tak of Department of Physical Education, Hong Kong Baptist University explained how to resist the cravings for a cigarette through doing exercises and how smoking affects sports performance. Hong Kong swimmer Stephanie AU and ultra runner Steve LO also shared their experiences in releasing pressure through swimming and running and encouraged the quitters to do more exercises to strengthen the determination to kick the smoking habit. The Champion of the 8th Quit to Win Contest, Jerry CHENG provided tips on smoking cessation and claimed that he had great improvement in cycling after quitting smoking. Artists Tracy CHU and Joey LAW promoted the benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle through interactive games and performances.

COSH collaborated with the Television Broadcasts Limited to produce a series of promotion videos which were premiered at the event. The videos were hosted by Dr LOUIE Hung-tak, Steve LO and artist Kaki LEUNG to urge the public to be a “Smoke-free Athlete”. On the other hand, local cartoon character B.Duck was invited to design a set of key visuals with smoke-free healthy tips. B.Duck and its founder, Eddie HUI joined the event to support the “Smoke-free Athletes”.

Recruitment booths of “Be a Smoke-free Athlete” will be set up on streets and shopping malls across the territory during May and June 2018. The public can also join as a “Smoke-free Athlete” via the online platform (, as well as take the “Smoke-free Athlete One Minute Exercise Challenge” and get a chance to win fabulous prizes. For details of the programme, please visit or

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The officiating guests encouraged the public to be a “Smoke-free Athlete” to enjoy the benefits of a smoke-free healthy living.

Officiating guests, artists, athletes, tobacco control experts, healthcare professionals, academia and representatives of different sectors pledged to be a “Smoke-free Athletes” to say no to cigarette and do more exercises.
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