Subject: Policy Address 2018 – Ban on E-cigarettes and Other New Smoking Products
Date received: 10 October 2018
To safeguard the health of the public, the Government has made strenuous efforts in tobacco control. Different measures have been introduced, including the designation and continuous expansion of no-smoking areas, and periodic increases in tobacco duty. With the concerted efforts by the Government and other stakeholders over the years, smoking prevalence among persons aged 15 and above has significantly dropped from over 20% in the 1980s to 10% at present. The Government has also laid down the target of further reducing smoking prevalence to 7.8% by 2025.
In recent years, the emergence of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other new smoking products has posed new health risk and challenges. Often packaged as less harmful substitutes with promotion tactics targeted at youngsters and non-smokers, these products open a gateway to the eventual consumption of conventional cigarettes. The fact is: all these new smoking products are harmful to health and produce second-hand smoke. There is also a lack of sufficient evidence to prove that these products can help quit smoking. The public may underestimate the harmful effects of these products and eventually endorse the smoking image and relevant behaviours once again.
Since the Government proposed to legislate for the regulation of e-cigarettes and other new smoking products in the middle of this year, the medical professions, education sector, parents and many members of the public have expressed concerns about the adoption of a regulatory approach for the issue. They are worried that allowing the sale of e-cigarettes and other new smoking products with restrictions in the market will not be adequate to protect public health, and will bring about very negative impact on children and adolescents in particular. After weighing the pros and cons of a regulatory approach as opposed to a full ban, I have decided that, with the protection of public health as the prime consideration, the Government will submit proposed legislative amendments in this legislative session to ban the import, manufacture, sale, distribution and advertisement of e-cigarettes and other new smoking products.
The full link to the Policy Address is https://www.policyaddress.gov.hk/2018/eng/policy.html
An infographics on health-related Policy Address initiatives can be accessed at the following link – https://www.facebook.com/122049158503384/posts/213959839312315/
I write to thank you for the advice you have tendered on the subject. Please rest assured that protection of the health of the public will continue to top the Government’s priority. We remain committed to reducing smoking prevalence for those aged 15 and above from presently 10% to about 7.8% by 2025.
The road to formal execution of the proposed ban on e-cigarettes and other new smoking products will be subject to the passage of the relevant legislation and other challenges. We will need to count on your continued support along the way.
Prof Sophia Siu Chee CHAN
Secretary for Food and Health