Dr Mackay, anti-smoking campaigner, says smoking is now leading cause of leg amputation


The anti-smoking campaigner Dr Judith Mackay has weighed into the controversy surrounding BUZZ’s bylined story on the Sai Kung man who has had his limbs amputated. Some readers responded negatively to the story saying it should not have been published, even though the sufferer was not identified and a false name given.

Dr Mackay has devoted most of her working life to campaigning about the dangers of smoking. She has been so effective internationally that the tobacco barons have dubbed her the fourth most dangerous person on the planet.  Here’s what our local anti-smoking expert wrote:

Smoking has now overtaken diabetes as the commonest cause for lower limb amputations. Smoking can do this in non-diabetics, although if you have both, then the risks multiply.

The mechanism is that tobacco narrows the arteries – heart (leading to a coronary), brain (stroke), penis (impotence), lower limb – leading to gangrene.

The dangers of smoking cannot be overemphasized, and affect virtually every part of the body. And, after 100 years of cigarette use, some of the dangers are only now emerging.

The most compelling statistic is that about two out of every three smokers will die from smoking; no other consumer product on the market even approximates that degree of risk.

The good news in this dismal scenario is that quitting works. The body has an amazing ability to heal, and the risks start to diminish within a day, until they have virtually gone back to those of a non-smoker after 10-15 years.

The HK government has set up several quitlines, clinics, etc, to help people quit smoking. I am listing eight below, but the best first step is to phone 1833 183.

The new tobacco products like e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn in themselves cause harm, which is why the HK government is currently seeking to ban them before they become widespread on the market.

Cessation Services

Department of Health Smoking Cessation Services

The Department of Health operates an Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline 1833 183 which offers a one-stop service for callers to get access to various smoking cessation service providers in Hong Kong.

Counselling on smoking cessation is provided by Registered Nurses through the Smoking Cessation Hotline of the Department of Health. Besides, a computerised call handling system is set up to provide information on smoking cessation and medication in Cantonese, Putonghua and English round the clock. Users may assess their nicotine dependency via the system and obtain the test result as well as other information by fax.

Hospital Authority

The Smoking Counselling and Cessation Centres is administered by the Hospital Authority since 2002, the service is provided by registered nurses and pharmacists to assist smoker to quit via evidence-based therapies and counselling. Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline : 1833 183 (Press 3) or  2300 7272.

School of Nursing and School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong

(A) Youth Quitline
Target : Youth aged 25 or below. Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline: 1833 183 (Press 5)
Cessation Hotline : 2855 9557 / 5111 4333 Website: http://www.hku.hk/yquit/

(B) Women Quit

Target : Female smokers with quit attempt
Service Coverage :Tailor-made cessation programme offered by experienced smoking cessation nurse via face-to-face and telephone counseling; Enquiry service on smoking cessation; To understand the tobacco dependence; Suggestion on practical cessation plan; Regular follow up service. Cessation Hotline: 6752 6266 / 3917 6658.  Website: http://www.wquit.hku.hk

Tung Wah Group of Hospitals

TWGHs Integrated Centre on Smoking Cessation has been established since 1 January 2009 under the subvention of the Department of Health. It provides the local population with comprehensive and community-based smoking cessation services in Wanchai, Mong Kok, Kwun Tong, Cheung Sha Wan, Tsuen Wan, Shatin, Tuen Mun and Tseung Kwan O.

Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline : 1833 183 (Press 2). Cessation Hotline : 2332 8977

Pok Oi Hospital

With effect from 1 April 2010, the Department of Health collaborates with Pok Oi Hospital for the provision of smoking cessation programme using acupuncture in Chinese medicine.

The programme covers a comprehensive range of activities and services including smoking cessation service, education for the public and research projects. Free smoking cessation service including counselling and acupuncture will be provided by POH Chinese medicine practitioners in 20 mobile clinics which serve 100 locations at different districts. A Chinese Medicine Community Health Care Centre was established to support these mobile clinics. Integrated Smoking Cessation Hotline : 1833 183 (Press 4). Cessation Hotline : 2607 1222

United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service

The United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service has been funded by the Department of Health to provide free smoking cessation services targeted at ethnic minority groups and new immigrants. The services aim to address the special needs in particular the language and cultural difference of ethnic minority groups.

Cessation Hotline: 3156 9012 / 2344 3019  Website: http://www.ucn.org.hk/?l=e&c=smoke_cessation

Christian Family Service Centre

Funded by The Health Care and Promotion Fund of Food and Health Bureau, “Loving Kwun Tong Smoking-free Programme” offers Smoking Cessation Service for smokers. Registered nurse provides assessment and counselling service whereas Chinese medical practitioner provides acupuncture treatment. Service coverage includes seminars, exhibitions and group activities.

Target: Smokers aged 30 – 59. Hotline: 2191 2887

Lok Sin Tong

Sponsored by the Department of Health, the Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon, has launched the program named “Smoking Cessation Program in Workplace”, so as to help corporate to create a supportive & encouraging environment in promoting smoking cessation in workplace. It also aims to raise awareness of companies to the importance of supporting staff to quit smoking.

The project helps enrolled company to set up internal policy, provide health talk to smokers and non smokers, 4-hour smoking cessation workshop (voluntary) and counseling services to smokers. It is free of charge. Cessation Hotline: 2272 9877
Website: http://www.scpw.hk/en/

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