Govt stands firm on blanket ban on e-cigarettes

The government says it is standing firm on a proposal to impose an all-out ban on the sale, import and manufacturing of e-cigarettes and other heated tobacco products, as the bill proceeds to the full Legislative Council for a second reading.

The amendment bill was introduced in February 2019, but the vetting process had been deadlocked – as some lawmakers said heated tobacco products should only be regulated.

Speaking as a bills committee finally wrapped up its vetting of the government’s plan on Friday, health secretary Sophia Chan said she hopes the legislation can be passed by the end of this Legco term next month.

“We still believe that a total ban on alternative tobacco product is necessary,” she said, after the city’s largest party, the DAB, earlier threw its support behind the proposal.

But the Liberal Party’s Peter Shiu said he and his party members will continue their fight for the proposal to be amended.

“I will agree to ban those e-cigarettes, but I will try to [push to] regulate those heated tobacco products for Hong Kong. We will try to exempt the R&D for those new heated products, and also for manufacturing those new products – not for Hong Kong market, but for export to other countries,” Shiu said.

“I think the government will not agree with those amendments, but I will try to convince other Legco members to support them,” he added.

The Coalition on Tobacco Affairs, which represents the local tobacco industry, also expressed disappointment over the government’s stance.

In a statement, the group noted that traditional cigarettes can still be sold in Hong Kong, adding that banning all alternative smoking products would just strip adult smokers of their freedom to choose, and would aggravate black-market activities.
Last updated: 2021-09-10 HKT 15:00