Sai Kung’s campaigning doctor blasts big tobacco and other commercial opposition to improved public health

L to R; Michael Chugani, Judith Mackay and Brett Cooper Photo: TVB

Dr Judith Mackay, a medical doctor who has been a Sai Kung resident since 1971, had a busy time in the public eye this week, fighting Big Tobacco – first on TVB Pearl on Michael Chugani’s “Straight Talk” programme, going head-to-head with Philip Morris General Manager for Hong Kong and Macau, Brett Cooper.

The recorded programme can be seen on


Second, in a far-reaching seminar on commercial influences on health, Dr Mackay said there were many levels of responsibility for health:

  • Individuals: need to exercise, avoid obesity, not smoke, drink modestly if at all, look after their teeth, eat a healthy diet, and  treat high blood pressure.
  • Governments: need to set the template for this to happen – by legislation, taxation, available and affordable health care; and health promotion with a much bigger emphasis on prevention.
  • Employers, business and industry:  by their products, business practices, and political practices.
Judith –  defending our health

The “non-communicable disease” epidemic of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and more is unique in history in that there is commercial opposition to public health policy. Nowhere is this better seen than in the behaviour of the tobacco industry. But the arms industry, gaming industry, fast food industry, sugar and alcohol industries are now beginning to behave more and more like the tobacco giants, in challenging pro-health policies.

But there are “health allies” too, in the sports industry, in green food shops and restaurants, in companies with healthy and safe environments for their employees. “We need to encourage and support these in Sai Kung,” Dr MacKay said.

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