The government on Wednesday said it will re-launch plans to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes in Hong Kong after September’s Legco elections, insisting that a full ban is the most effective measure to prevent these products from gaining a foothold in the territory.
In a statement, a government spokesman said the administration “deeply regrets and is disappointed” with the announcement on Tuesday by a Legco bills committee vetting the legislation, that it would halt all discussions on the matter because they don’t have enough time to complete their work within this month.
He said the administration would table the legislation to the next session of Legco "when the opportunity arises". The entire legislative process would have to start over from scratch.
Health officials have warned that vapes and heated tobacco products (HTPs) can be a gateway to tobacco smoking, and are harmful to health in any case.
“Smoking products containing nicotine are addictive. Therefore, the Government cannot accept any proposal of formal regularisation of HTPs in Hong Kong”, the spokesman said.
He added that a number of surveys have indicated that a “vast majority” of the public supported the aborted plans to ban the sale, manufacture, distribution and promotion of e-cigarettes. However, under the proposed law, it wouldn't be a crime to use such products.
“The Government reiterates the position that a full ban of all alternative smoking products is the most effective measure to prevent these emerging smoking products from establishing themselves in Hong Kong, which could in turn undermine the achievement of our tobacco control efforts over the years.”
The spokesman said officials will continue to work to bring the smoking prevalence down from 10.8 percent in 2018, to 7.8 percent by 2025.