Hong Kong’s ban on the importation and sale of alternative smoking products, including vaping and heat-not-burn products, took effect on April 30, reports ABS-CBN.
The Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 also prohibits using or carrying an activated vaping device in no-smoking areas. Offenders risk a fine of HKD1,500 ($191).
The ban covers electronic smoking products, heated-tobacco products, herbal cigarettes and their accessories, according to The Star.
The ordinance also prohibits the promotion, manufacture and possession for commercial purposes of novel tobacco products. Those convicted of violating the law will be fined HKD50,000 and imprisoned for six months.
Several vape shops have already closed as a result of the ban, according to news reports. Sales before the ban took effect increased dramatically as users stocked up on products before they could no longer buy them legally.
Heated Tobacco Concern Group HK said that the ban could encourage the smoking of traditional combustible cigarettes; about 90 percent of more than 800 vapers polled last year stated they would use traditional cigarettes following a ban on e-cigarettes. The other 10 percent indicated that they would buy alternative products on the black market.
“The new policy has left users with no choice but to smoke traditional cigarettes,” said Joe Lo Kai-lut, convener of Heated Tobacco Concern Group HK. “It is a bad thing for public health … I hope the government will review the policy by looking into other countries’ regulatory measures.”
Hong Kong customs arrested 11 people on charges of smuggling vaping and heated-tobacco products and confiscated HKD15 million worth of e-cigarettes and heated-tobacco products on Friday.
Given Hong Kong’s proximity to Shenzhen—the world’s largest manufacturing hub for vapor devices, authorities are expected to have their work cut out in enforcing the ban.