An esteemed group of Asia Pacific medical and scientific professionals and researchers has written to Hong Kong Chief Executive, Hon Carrie Lam, concerned that Hong Kong is set to ban safer alternative nicotine products such as vaping.
‘We recently came across media reports highlighting that Hong Kong will move forward to deliberate on a bill which seeks to ban the importation and sales of all alternative nicotine delivery products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products,’ wrote the Expert Advisory Group of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).
Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA, says members of the Expert Advisory Group were keen to offer their views. They understand other regulatory proposals have also been tabled for the Hong Kong Government to consider which, if adopted, could see the regulation of heated tobacco products instead of a blanket ban for ENDS – Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems.
‘It is highly commendable that Hong Kong has set a target to reduce smoking rates from the current 10.2% to 7.8% by 2025. We strongly believe that by appropriately regulating heated tobacco products and adopting a harm reduction approach to complement Hong Kong’s existing strong tobacco control policies, Hong Kong can achieve a high reduction in smoking rates and improve public health outcomes,’ they wrote.
The experts noted Japan’s significant success having regulated heated tobacco products. In fact, Japan’s smoking rates have declined by more than 30% since heated tobacco products were first launched in 2014.
Citing global scientific evidence and data, the experts said a growing consensus in the international scientific community is that ENDS are much less harmful that regular cigarettes as they do not involve combustion.
‘With the growing global evidence in support of the harm reduction potential of heated tobacco products, 48 countries have moved towards specifically regulating heated tobacco products. In fact, a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) did not make any recommendations to ban these products and specially recommended that member states should regulate heated tobacco products,’ wrote the Expert Advisory Group.
The experts noted that China is a member of the WHO Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
Nancy Loucas: “With Hong Kong at a crossroads, our experts were keen to respectfully offer their views backed by the latest international evidence. They wanted to be crystal clear: It is the combustion of tobacco that is the primary cause of smoking-related diseases, with vaping and heated tobacco products significantly less harmful.”
The head of CAPHRA says several countries in the Asia Pacific region have now regulated the availability of safer alternative nicotine products.
“The Philippines Senate, for example, is set to approve a bill to regulate in a positive and risk proportionate way. If Hong Kong is to successfully reduce its smoking rates, it must also give smokers legal access to safer alternatives. We hope they follow the evidence, because as our experts have shown, there’s plenty of it,” says Nancy Loucas.
The expert signatories: Kumamaru Hiroya MD, PhD (Japan), Eliana Rubashkyn B Pharm, BSc, MA Public Health (New Zealand), ColinMendelsohn MD and Joe Kosterich MD (Australia), Ron Christian G. Sison RMT, MT (AMT), MLS (ASCPi), MPH (Philippines), Rohan Sequiera MD, PhD (India), Andrew John Da Roza MA, MSc., SAT, SAC, CSAT (Singapore) and Dr Tan Kok Kuan, MD, MBBS (Singapore).
To view the latest Voices for Vape panel discussion of Southeast Asia consumer Tobacco Harm Reduction advocates, visithttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJOFWFOHvYs. Topics include the WHO’s South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) conference in September and possible impacts for the WHO FCTC in November.
Now live and boasting nearly 14,000 testimonials, CAPHRA is calling on those who’ve quit cigarettes through smoke-free nicotine alternatives to tell their story on www.righttovape.org
Consumer groups in the Asia Pacific region have also launched a petition at change.org/v4v-petition that urges the WHO to respect consumer rights and to stop demonizing Tobacco Harm Reduction options ahead of November’s meeting of the WHO FCTC.
For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics – please visithttps://apthrmedia.org
According to a report from Hong Kong Sing Tao Daily on the 29th, a Hong Kong University study showed that the proportion of young people aged 25 or below in Hong Kong using new tobacco products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco reached a record high. From 2019 to 2020, it was as high as 85.9%, an increase of 13 from the previous year. It is the third consecutive year that it has climbed up to 10%. The situation is worrying.
According to a survey conducted by the “Hong Kong University Youth Smoking Cessation Hotline”, 51.3% of the interviewed teenagers said that the main reason for using new tobacco products is curiosity, followed by peer influence (37.3%), and they hope to use new tobacco products to quit or reduce smoking. Smoking cigarettes (accounting for 21.6%). Respondents generally believe that new tobacco products are “healthier” than traditional tobacco products, and mistakenly believe that they can help quit smoking. The result is counterproductive, and they are encouraged to use more new tobacco products in disguise. In addition, the interviewees also said that they would be attracted by the various publicity, trendy packaging and design on the Internet, and friends would recommend and share with each other.
Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan have very strict controls on traditional paper tobacco, but e-cigarettes, as a “new thing” that has emerged in recent years, have been in a fuzzy area. In October 2018, when Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor read the second policy address during his tenure, he announced that Hong Kong would completely ban e-cigarettes. The Hong Kong government then formally submitted a draft to the Legislative Council, proposing a ban on the import, manufacture, sale, distribution, and promotion of e-cigarettes or heated tobacco. Once convicted, it will be fined 50,000 Hong Kong dollars and imprisoned for half a year. The medical profession in Hong Kong believes that e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes also contain potentially harmful compounds such as nicotine, various heavy metals, and formaldehyde, which seriously endanger health. However, the public generally misunderstands them and underestimates the health effects of e-cigarettes. I believe that e-cigarettes can help quit smoking. However, the e-cigarette ban has been opposed and resisted by many Hong Kong parliamentarians and some groups. They believe that the research data cited in the legislation is inaccurate and the research object is the “simulated cigarette-type” e-cigarette device that has long been eliminated, rather than the current market. Mainstream products. After a protracted struggle, the Smoking Bills Committee of the Hong Kong Legislative Council announced in June last year that it would stop discussing the ban and temporarily abandon its plan to ban new tobacco and vaping products.
Professor Lin Daqing of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong said that the latest findings warned of the need for immediate action and urged the Legislative Council to pass the government as soon as possible to submit a draft for a comprehensive ban on new tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
At about 2 pm on January 25, 2021, the Mong Kok Police District Miscellaneous Investigation Team and relevant departments took joint action to raided a shop at No. 50 Soy Street, Mong Kok, and seized a large amount of e-liquid containing nicotine with a market value of about 450,000 yuan.
During the operation, a male person in charge surnamed Liao (31 years old) was arrested on suspicion of “illegal selling of the first poison” and “possession of the first poison” and is being detained for investigation. The police emphasized that “illegal sale of the first poison” and “possession of the first poison” are serious crimes. Once convicted, they can be fined up to 100,000 yuan and imprisoned for 2 years. People are urged not to try the law on their own.
On January 15, Hong Kong Customs seized about 8.9 million suspected illicit cigarettes and 600,000 suspected HNB cartridges with tax unpaid in Ping Che.
The estimated market value is approximately HK$26 million and the taxable value is approximately HK$18 million. The Customs believes that the operation has smashed a suspected illicit cigarette storage warehouse.
In the early morning of the 15th, customs officers carried out an anti-illicit cigarette operation in Ping Che. They seized the suspected illicit cigarettes and unpaid HNB cartridge products in a tin house and a light truck. The Customs arrested a 24-year-old man suspected of being involved in the case and detained the light truck for investigation.
Currently, the case is still under investigation, and it is not ruled out that more people will be arrested. According to Hong Kong’s Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, tobacco is a dutiable commodity. Any product containing tobacco ingredients is dutiable and regulated by the “Regulations”.
CBD is legal in Hong Kong. According to several official government press announcements, CBD (cannabidiol) is not classified as a dangerous drug and is therefore not controlled under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.
It’s important to note that THC and its derivatives are illegal in Hong Kong and anything containing these substances is prohibited. When purchasing CBD products, it is important to look at labels or ask the seller to make sure you are purchasing Broad Spectrum CBD or CBD Isolate-based products to avoid unintentionally breaching the law.
From 2019-2020, more and more American, Japanese and European companies including SWISS FX, Koi CBD, Life Pure CBD are setting up CBD businesses in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Legislative Council has abandoned plans to ban the use of electronic atomization products.
Since the Hong Kong Chief Executive’s speech 19 months ago, e-cigarette and harm reduction advocates have been fighting the proposed ban.
The Legislative Council Bills Committee concluded discussions on bills banning e-cigarettes and heating tobacco products (HTP, also known as heat not burn products) last week. According to the Manila Standard, the committee has been studying the bill since March 2019, holding six meetings and three public hearings.
Some Legislative Council members of the committee strongly opposed the ban on the grounds that it was unfair to refuse to provide smokers with low-risk nicotine products.
Nancy Loucas, executive coordinator of the Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates Alliance, a regional consumer rights protection organization, and Hong Kong legislators such as Peter Shui, Raymond Chan, Cheng Chunt-tai, and others have also repeatedly argued that the ban is illogical.
The Director of Hong Kong Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department, Dr. Feng Ying, told the Hong Kong media that the government will propose another bill at the next legislative session to ban the use of electronic cigarettes.
Feng said that at this stage, our most urgent task is to educate the public on the risks of heated tobacco products and prevent misleading claims that they bring lower risks and observe trends.
The original bill would prohibit the sale, manufacture, import, distribution or promotion of vape and HTP products, and impose a maximum of six months in prison and a fine of 50,000 Hong Kong dollars. The draft even plans to detain tourists bringing electronic cigarettes into Hong Kong.
In a June statement, COSH said that if a product is on the market, it should be taxed in the same way as tobacco. Their selling price should not be lower than cigarettes, so as not to attract the public to use cigarettes because of the cheap price.
In Hong Kong, the average price of cigarettes is about 57 Hong Kong dollars.
The Hong Kong Government submitted a draft amendment to the ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to the Legislative Council in February last year. So far, eight meetings have been held. The chairman of the Committee Guo Weiqiang sent a letter to the members through the secretary. The number of meetings that the committee can hold this month and next month is different from the goal of the original ten meetings. In addition, some members have indicated that they will submit a large number of amendments. It seems unrealistic to complete the deliberations during the session, so it is recommended to suspend the work of the legislation committee in the e-cig ban. The chairman hopes that the relevant members will reply whether they support their decision before next Wednesday.
The Liberal Party and the People ’s Power have expressed support for the suspension of the deliberations. Among them, the Liberal Party ’s catering industry member Zhang Yuren said that the amendments proposed by the members have not been processed and now the time is not enough to complete the deliberations. He also criticized the legislation official for their slow work.
Hong Kong Customs and the Department of Health took joint action on April 28th to crack down on the illegal sale of smoking alternative products in 15 upstairs and street shops in Wan Chai, Kwun Tong, Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan and Yuen Long in Hong Kong. A total of 50,000 suspected nicotine products were seized. Those products have a market value of 2.38 million yuan. The customs arrested 20 people, including shop owners and employees, aged 20 to 41 years.
Earlier, the Hong Kong Customs and the Department of Health received reports that some retail outlets selling vaping products, carrying out illegal activities. There are some retail stores that sell legitimate products on the surface, such as atomizers and accessories, and secretly sell products with nicotine ingredients like e-liquid/vape juice. Although the products are not labeled with nicotine, some brands checked by the Department of Health have found it inside in the past. Those products are being tested.
Since February this year, the Hong Kong Government submitted a draft amendment to the Legislative Council of the Special Administrative Region to prohibit the import, manufacture, sale, distribution and promotion of new tobacco products like electronic cigarettes. Not only the China domestic electronic cigarette industry has been facing export problems, but also the distribution and re-export industry in Hong Kong has been affected a lot.
In recent years, many domestic e-cigarette manufacturers ship their products to the warehouse of Hong Kong Logistics Company, and then export them to foreign countries after separating and packaging. However, the problem is that the Hong Kong government’s proposed amendments do not allow the distribution process, and the public opinion has affected many domestic e-cigarette manufacturers. Therefore, many domestic vape companies hand the transit business over to Macau. Besides, it led to the loss of a large number of export-related enterprises in Hong Kong, many companies have laid off staff and terminated operations one after another.
Although the e-cigarette ban bill has not yet been passed by the Legislative Council of Hong Kong and the amendment motion put forward by the Hong Kong Member of Parliament on 25 June has been passed, the ban on e-cigarettes has been postponed. However, due to a large number of bankruptcies in the distribution and re-export industry in Hong Kong, the industry expects that the new amendment will exempt the distribution of e-cigarettes in order to save the vape industry.
In February, the Hong Kong Food and Health Bureau issued a constitutional amendment proposing to prohibit the import, manufacture, sale and distribution of electronic cigarettes and HNB products. Even though the draft is subject to consideration and vote by members of the Legislative Council, with the growth objection of public opinion and the advance enforcement of some customs, it has led to the electronic cigarettes transit relevant enterprises on the verge of extinction.
Chen, the head of a warehousing and logistics company in Hong Kong, once disclosed to the Hong Kong media, “Shenzhen is the main producer of electronic cigarette products in the world. If manufacturers export products, they can obtain a certain proportion of export tax rebates according to the total value of goods. However, due to the different quantity of foreign purchases, there are also many small orders. If the manufacturer declares the products for each order separately, they must pay more handling fees according to the number of orders.”
Therefore, it is the usual practice of these manufacturers to apply for a customs declaration form from the domestic customs, then transport a large number of products to the storage and logistics company of Hong Kong for storage, and entrust the packaged products to be separated according to the order, and then re-exported to foreign countries. “For domestic manufacturers, this method not only saves costs, but also earns export tax rebates. Moreover, Hong Kong has a relatively tight shipping schedule, which will lead to the prosperity of warehousing, separating and re-export business. But as soon as the “ban” comes out, the whole line is facing a crisis!”
Chen explained that although the draft allowed electronic cigarette products to be transshipped “intact”, it stated that it was intended to prohibit “distribution” in Hong Kong. Many domestic manufacturers have learned that Hong Kong will prohibit the relevant processes after passing the legislation, and they take precautions, terminate cooperation with Hong Kong companies, and transfer to Macao companies for distribution business, and then arrange trucks to transport the goods to Hong Kong via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. “The truck drive directly to the container terminal and board the goods on ship. We are not needed anymore.”
According to the data of the domestic electronic cigarette survey system “ecigku”, from January to April this year, the amount of re-export in Hong Kong has dropped from $206.16 million at the beginning of the year to $67.82 million. The lowest level of export data was in February when the Hong Kong government proposed a draft amendment.
Chen Minhui, chairman of the Hong Kong Electronic Cigarette Association, said that before the proposed amendments, the business of separating, packaging and re-exporting electronic cigarettes had flourished in Hong Kong, with three large and more than ten small companies with a total monthly turnover of more than 100 million yuan. But in recent months, many companies have closed down or contacted other businesses to struggle to survive. It is estimated that the monthly turnover has plunged to about 100 million yuan. “One of the companies had about 180 employees, but recently there have been many large layoffs. At present, only about 20 employees remain.”
He emphasized that all electronic cigarette products stored and separated will be exported and will not be sold in Hong Kong. The relevant processes should not be prohibited, which has affected many people’s unemployment. “It is better to regulate electronic cigarettes than to prohibit them by amendment.”
Zhang, who is also the head of the warehousing and logistics company, also said that he did not oppose the amendment to prohibit the import, manufacture and sale of electronic cigarettes, but should exempt from the right to distribute, because the related products are not sold locally. “I hope the government will listen to the voice of the transit industry and protect the industry’s survival rights and workers’jobs!”
In response to the industry’s request for an exemption from “distribution before re-export”, a spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said that if new tobacco products were allowed to be re-exported in Hong Kong, a comprehensive law enforcement system would be needed to monitor the entire supply chain. “However, the relevant law enforcement work needs to invest too much resources, which will put unnecessary pressure on the overall law enforcement work.”
On the other hand, although Hong Kong’s draft amendment has been postponed, the impact on transit business includes not only the ban on electronic cigarettes, but also the tariff issue of Sino-US trade frictions. So far, the United States has implemented three tariff adjustments on e-cigarettes.
The earliest tax increase on electronic cigarettes in the United States can be traced back to August 23, 2018, when the tariff on electronic cigarette packages increased by 25% from 2.6%.
On September 24, 2018, the tax on electronic cigarette accessories increased from 0.6% to 10.6%.
On May 10, 2019, electronic cigarette accessories increased from 10.6% to 25.6%.
Before the new tax increase in August last year, many e-tobacco exporters were looking for a more stable way to deal with it. At that time, because there was no tax increase on electronic cigarette accessories, the common way was to declare through the form of accessories, then to the United States to process, assemble, heat shrinkage film, and finally to the hands of end-users, the price did not increase much.
However, with the latest round of tariff adjustment covering electronic cigarette accessories, and the United States began to strictly check the origin of goods and declared product names and other acts that do not conform to reality, so that domestic electronic cigarette enterprises must face the problem of how to re-export.
So, even if e-cigarette enterprises set up factories in other countries or declare them as stopped exporters to evade tariffs, as long as the e-cigarette still uses Chinese battery core, the origin of e-cigarette can hardly be identified as other countries, because the main value of e-cigarette comes from the core.
In addition, the United States has a very sound trade law, if the false declaration is checked, in addition to seriously affecting the sale of the product in the United States, there is a risk that enterprises will be prosecuted by the United States Government. You know, the U.S. Customs has a five-year retrospective period. If there is a record of violations, the Customs is bound to conduct a strict inspection of the goods.
Overall, Hong Kong’s distribution and re-export industry related to e-cigarettes is facing a huge crisis. On the one hand, with the growing dissatisfaction of public opinion on the ban on electronic cigarettes, most of Hong Kong’s electronic cigarette re-export and transit business declined sharply; on the other hand, because the largest domestic export market of electronic cigarettes is still the United States, the tariff issue of China US trade war has also led many domestic manufacturing industries to begin to shift to more advantageous logistics plans.
Although Hong Kong’s e-cigarette ban has been postponed and not been passed yet, and Trump has recently announced that he will stop raising tariffs on China, the chances of manufacturers returning to Hong Kong for separating and re-export are still rare when there is no clear regulation in Hong Kong carried out, regardless of any factor above.
After all, bans and trade war are only temporary.
Juul is not legal in Hong Kong. The thing matters is the nicotine contained e-liquid.
Because Juul podscontain freebase nicotine salt, it’s illegal in Hong Kong.
However, if you are not carrying the pods but only the vape device, it’s legal.
Please do not vape in public places like restaurant, library, airport, etc. which are not allowed. And don’t take nicotine contained e juice when you are entering the Hong Kong by air or ship through a customs checking in case of getting into trouble.
Nicotine is the a Part 1 poison in Hong Kong, which can only be sold at pharmacies under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. The illegal sale and possession of Part 1 poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products are criminal offences. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years’ imprisonment.
Besides, pod vapes like RELX, MOTI are also illegal in Hong Kong for containing nicotine in pods. That’s why you cannot see them in Hong Kong.
Another question asked by some fan from Vape hk,”What age can you buy vape in hong kong?” Well, any age is allowed once the vape doesn’t contain nicotine. Vape pen is just an ordinary kind of electronics device. Besides, some vape e-liquid is just made of wheatmeal or starch which belongs to the food category. They are safe though some lead kids to nicotine contained e juice vaping or cigarette smoking like the Juul in USA.