On February 20, new legislation was introduced to LegCo concerning a ban on the import, making, selling distributing and advertising of e-cigarettes. This motion comes as the products are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in Hong Kong, and the world over.
According to government sources, there has been a surge in the use of e-cigarettes on a global scale over the past decade. Only around 5,700 people in Hong Kong regularly use e-cigarettes, but this number is expected to increase in line with global trends.
The legislation intends to not only curb the circulation of e-cigarette products in Hong Kong, individuals found bringing e-cigarettes into Hong Kong may be fined up to HK$50,000, along with six months in prison, regardless of whether the imported e-cigarettes are for personal use.
Using e-cigarettes will remain legal, but HK$5,000 fines will be introduced for anyone using them in smoking-free areas (the same amount as smoking normal cigarettes).
This move from the government aims to protect public health by banning e-cigarettes prior to them becoming increasingly popular in Hong Kong.
A study conducted by Hong Kong University (HKU) found that e-cigarette use amongst teenagers in Hong Kong acts as a gateway to smoking cigarettes. Thus, researchers concluded that public policies aiming to ban the sale of e-cigarettes could potentially decrease the amount of teenagers smoking.
Legco also wants to pass a bill granting more authority to tobacco control officers, enabling them to take more severe measures against anyone violating smoking-free zones.
This ban has experienced widespread opposition. Some argue that not banning the use of e-cigarettes will make the ban inefficient. There are no plans to ban tobacco, even though its negative impact on public health is debatably greater than e-cigarettes.Tags: health, smoking, e-cigarettes, ban, legco, government HK