The government says it will table legislation next week intended to allow the re-export of banned smoking products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, in a move officials hope will reverse a "substantial loss" to Hong Kong's air cargo industry.
The import, sale and manufacture of alternative smoking products, or ASPs, was banned in April last year. However re-export via air cargo was allowed under the legislation. The administration now wants to extend the exemption to sea-to-air and land-to-air shipments as well.
"We notice that the ban of intermodal ASP transshipment since April 30, 2022, has caused substantial loss to Hong Kong's air cargo transshipment business," the Transport and Logistics Bureau said in a statement.
"Hence, intermodal ASP transshipment should be exempted under a new regulatory regime on the premise that ASP leakage into the local market is duly prevented."
Meanwhile, the administration says the amendments will also create a new control scheme under which customs officers will be tasked with stepping up the monitoring and supervision of such shipments, to ensure that the goods do not leak into the local market.
The bureau said the proposed legal changes have balanced "the imminent need" to maintain Hong Kong's logistics and air cargo transshipment business so as to preserve its position as an international aviation hub, as well as the administration's tobacco control efforts.
It added that lawmakers, the Hong Kong Logistics Development Council and trading and logistics sector representatives consulted had given support to the idea. It said officials would engage medical and health groups in an effort to ease their concerns.