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.