Opponents Dig in Ahead of New Products Debate

    Photo: Prism6 Production

    Opponents and proponents of vaping are ramping up pressure as Hong Kong’s legislative council prepares to take up the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Bill 2019, which aims to ban e-cigarettes and heated-tobacco products.

    According to a report in South China Morning Post, the government wants the legislative council to approve the law before the end of its session in October, and it could be in force as early as April.

    On Sept. 3, the Heated-Tobacco Concern Group released a study showing that 90 percent of 882 surveyed heated-tobacco product users would turn to traditional cigarettes in the event of a total ban. The remaining 10 percent said they would continue to use heated-tobacco products but buy them on the black market.

    But Judith Mackay, director of the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control, said all forms of tobacco use were harmful and no level of exposure was safe. “These new products offer a new, trendy, exciting way of using tobacco and nicotine, accompanied by appalling advertising directed at children,” Mackay said. “Once the genie is out of the bottle, it cannot be put back.”

    Lawmakers have been mulling a crackdown on alternative tobacco products since 2014, but with the city’s largest political party indicating it will back the bill, a ban now appears more likely than before.