Make heated tobacco products legal for Hong Kong smokers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 December, 2017, 9:02am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 December, 2017, 8:37pm

Like your correspondent Tommy Chan (“Hong Kong policy on heated tobacco products is baffling. Can we learn from Japan?”, November 18), a lot of smokers (including me) are curious about heat-not-burn tobacco products.

We can buy them online and they are freely available in shops when we visit Japan or Korea. When I go to designated smoking areas near my workplace, I notice that more smokers are using these products.

Some readers might think it is best to go cold turkey if you want to quit, but that is not necessarily the case.

Quitting is a personal choice. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach, and for some, it may require incremental steps to reach your goal.

A lot of smokers are asking why they can’t buy these products in local convenience stores, like they can in Japan. Why is it taking so long for us to have legitimate channels to buy them?

They share their frustration over this on online discussion forums and complain that it is difficult to get all the details you require on various products. This is a problem for those of us who want to make informed choices.

Many users have fallen victim to fake trader scams. I have heard of online vendors whose websites were found to have shut down after they had collected deposits.

As users of heated tobacco products, we wonder if we will be the next victim. We would not face such problems if these products could be sold legally in Hong Kong.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said that as chief executive she wants to connect with society. Well, she should listen to smokers and their needs, and respond to their concerns on heated tobacco products.

It is only reasonable to protect consumer rights and promote public health with accurate information, which can only be achieved by legalising these products.

With legitimate channels for obtaining them, smokers can then have the freedom to take responsibility for their own decisions regarding their health.

Emily Wong, Sai Kung