Hong Kong is set to ban electronic cigarettes and other ‘new tobacco products’, according to a story in the South China Morning Post.
The territory’s chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, was expected to announce the ban during a policy address today setting out about 250 initiatives.
The ban represents a U-turn by the government, which had previously proposed only to restrict the sale of such products to minors.
The Post reported that it had been told by ‘sources’ that the ban would cover e-cigarettes and other alternative products, such as heat-not-burn and herbal cigarettes.
Until now, the government had committed only to regulating e-cigarettes in the same way as conventional tobacco products are regulated, but health minister Sophia Chan Siu-chee left the door open for “more stringent measures”, depending on what medical evidence had to say about the health implications of these products.
However, a source familiar with the Food and Health Bureau expressed shock at the move, saying the previous administration had listed many technical problems with implementing a full ban.
Former health chief Dr. Ko Wing-man had intended to introduce a total ban in 2016, but studies by related departments suggested that such a move would be “quite problematic”.
Christine Hu, spokeswoman for the Coalition on Tobacco Affairs, an umbrella group of tobacco producers, said last night that she was upset by the proposal because it would boost the underground market for these products and fail to protect those under 18.
She said the Coalition was disappointed by the government’s “selective and blind adoption of views expressed by certain groups”, and disappointed that it had ignored opinions from the industry and scientific data from overseas.