The Hong Kong government said on Wednesday it intended to ban the sale and distribution of electronic cigarettes that are becoming popular as a modern substitute for traditional tobacco products.
"What we are trying to do is remove the problem in the embryo," Deputy Secretary of Food and Health, Amy Yueen, told reporters. "We have a responsibility … to protect public health and prevent the rooting of these products in Hong Kong, preventing them from being too popular, so we can not do too much for them in later days."
There is currently no law in Hong Kong regulating electronic cigarette devices.
Under the amending bill to be tabled next week in the legislature, imports, production, sale, distribution and advertising of electronic cigarettes, heat-free cigarettes and new tobacco products will be banned, but personal use and re-export of the products are permitted.
Tourists who bring the product when they arrive in Hong Kong will also be regulated.
The maximum punishment for the offense will be six months' imprisonment and a fine of $ 50,000 ($ 6,370).
Yuen said the amendment was not intended to criminalize people using electronic cigarettes but to limit market access as a deterrent to the harmful product.
"Young people can no longer see smoking cigarettes so cool, but these new products could be attractive to them," she said.
Unlike traditional tobacco products where tobacco is burned to produce smoking nicotine smoke inhalation, electronic battery-powered cigarettes use heat to vaporize liquids or heat the tobacco instead of burning it to aerosolize nicotine for this , which is known. "
Smoke produced by electronic cigarettes is less acute and consumers are not stained with the smell of cigarette smokers. Some studies have found that vaping is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes and can help people quit.
The Vape Association in Hong Kong, which represents dozens of e-cigarette traders, said the partial ban would only feed the black market.
According to government statistics, the number of vapers has grown to 5,700 in 2017, from approximately 1,000 in 2015, while the total number of smokers slightly decreases.