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Hong Kong will put forward ‘very soon’ an amendment to an existing bill that will tighten controls on electronic cigarettes, according to a story in the Hong Kong Standard quoting the Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan.
Currently, it is not against the law to sell or possess e-cigarettes, though possessing those that contain nicotine can lead to a two-year prison term or a HK$100,000 fine.
Chan was quoted as saying that tobacco companies often claimed that e-cigarettes were less harmful than was “tobacco”, but that the “opposite may be true”.
“Evidence that we have collected globally [shows] that e-cigarettes are harmful and many of the substances in the e-cigarette cartridge are actually carcinogenic and harmful to health,” Chan said.
“So therefore there is a need for the government to strengthen the regulatory framework for e-cigarettes in Hong Kong.”
It was clear from the story what form the new restrictions or bans would take.
Chan was speaking to reporters at a tobacco control conference in Wan Chai, where she was also asked if the government would raise tobacco duty next year after a three-year freeze.
She said the government would look at World Health Organization recommendations, but added that there was more to consider than just tax when it came to tobacco control.
Hong Kong’s Council on Smoking and Health has urged the government to double the tax on combustible cigarettes, claiming that such a move could reduce the number of smokers in Hong Kong to five percent of the population in 10 years’ time.
For reasons that aren’t clear, many people believe that a country that reduces its cigarette-consuming population to five percent would have eliminated tobacco smoking.