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Supporting the enactment of a total ban on e-cigarettes and other new smoking products
2018.10.15
The Chief Executive proposed to legislate for a total ban on e-cigarettes and other new smoking products in the 2018 Policy Address which demonstrated the Government’s determination to safeguard public health. Tobacco control groups, academia, medical and healthcare professionals, parents and education sector, youth service organizations, patient groups and other sectors welcomed the measure and were glad that the Chief Executive listened to our views earnestly. We urge the Government to put the legislation forward and press for immediate review and endorsement by the Legislative Council with no further delay. We also propose the Government to take a bold step to formulate a goal and timeline for a total ban of smoking in order to protect the public from tobacco hazards and achieve a smoke-free Hong Kong.

We re-emphasize that there is no safe tobacco product in the world. Increasing number of research studies uncovered the detrimental chemicals in e-cigarettes and other new tobacco products and their severe health impact. Some of the toxins and carcinogens have no safety level and will harm our health. It is not a healthier alternative. Marketing strategy, design and packaging of these products target youths and non-smokers, creating a gateway to smoking. The Government’s decision to implement a total ban of these products can prevent its epidemic and protect the health of people, especially the next generation. With reference to the experiences of the U.S. and European countries, delay in legislation will cause a surge in the rate of youngsters using e-cigarettes and new tobacco products. E-cigarette use in the U.S. youngsters has become an epidemic. The use in Hong Kong has also increased substantially. The legislation process should be in full force to nip them in the bud. There may be lobbying, litigation and other interferences by the tobacco industry. But no concessions should be made. The stance on protecting public health as the top priority have the full support of the tobacco control groups, academia, medical and healthcare professionals, parents and education sector, youth service organizations, patient groups and other sectors.

It was claimed that a total ban would lead to a surge in the smuggling activities of these products. In fact, the tobacco industry and its supporters always express strong opposition against any effective tobacco control measure around the world under this pretext. As recommended by the World Health Organization, the most effective measure against smuggling is tight control and aggressive enforcement. Promotion and education should also be strengthened to enhance public awareness on the illegality of illicit cigarettes. The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department has adopted stringent enforcement against illicit cigarette activities on all fronts. To counteract the potential illicit market of the new smoking products after the enactment of the legislation, we urge the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department and the related Government departments to step up enforcement strategy to protect public health.

It is encouraging to hear strong public views on banning all tobacco products recently. Many governments have already announced a goal and timeline for a total ban of smoking e.g. Ireland (2025), New Zealand (2025), Finland (2030), Canada (2035) and Malaysia (2045). The Hong Kong Government should strengthen the multi-pronged tobacco control measures to further lower the smoking prevalence and set a tobacco endgame goal with a defined schedule to protect its citizens from the hazards of smoking, secondhand smoke and third-hand smoke.

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Tobacco control groups, academia, medical and healthcare professionals, parents and education sector, youth service organizations, patient groups and other sectors support the enactment of a total ban on e-cigarettes and other new smoking products. We urge the Government and Legislative Council to put the legislation forward and formulate a goal and timeline for a total ban of smoking in Hong Kong.

This press statement is jointly released by:

Tobacco control groups
  • Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health
  • The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon
  • Tung Wah Group of Hospitals
  • United Christian Nethersole Community Health Service
  • HKU Youth Quitline
    Academia
  • Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong
  • Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
    Medical and healthcare professionals
  • Hong Kong Academy of Medicine
  • The Hong Kong Medical Association
  • The Federation of Medical Societies of Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Doctors Union
  • Hong Kong Dental Association
  • Hong Kong College of Cardiology
  • The Hong Kong Academy of Nursing
  • The Pharmaceutical Society of Hong Kong
  • The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong
    Education sector
  • Hong Kong Aided Primary School Heads Association
  • Hong Kong Subsidized Secondary Schools Council
  • Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools
  • Subsidized Primary Schools Council
  • 18 Districts’ Federations of Parent-Teachers Associations
    Youth service organization
  • The Boys' & Girls Clubs Association of Hong Kong
    Patient groups
  • Hong Kong Alliance of Patients' Organization
  • Hong Kong Patients' Voices
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