Hong Kong vaping ban would be first step to a smoke-free city
- Banning vaping helps to create an appropriate environment for all tobacco products to be outlawed
On October 10, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor presented her second policy address. One of the most notable items was arguably the proposal to ban e-cigarettes and new tobacco products, such as heat-not-burn and herbal cigarettes.
While many in the city have opposed some of her other proposals, such as the artificial islands project off Lantau , the plan to ban vaping is laudable.
First, banning e-cigarettes and new tobacco products could be the initial step towards achieving the long-term goal of a smoke-free Hong Kong. Traditional cigarettes have been imported and consumed for decades, and a sudden outright ban would be impractical. But banning vaping products, which are still relatively new to the market, would prevent their gaining popularity.
Simultaneously, the government should regularly review its regulations on traditional cigarettes, such as tax and import laws, to create disincentives for smokers and importers and eventually scale down the number of smokers. Banning vaping thus helps to create an appropriate environment for all tobacco products to be outlawed in the city.
Secondly, e-cigarettes may become faulty and pose a safety risk. These devices are powered by batteries, which have to be recharged, and there have been reports of batteries exploding. According to the US Fire Administration, there were 195 reports of e-cigarette fire and explosion incidents in the country from January 2009 to December 2016, with most of the devices blowing up in the pocket or while in use.
Thirdly, banning vaping can prevent minors from taking up smoking. The lack of regulation makes these devices easily procurable for persons below 18. Like traditional cigarettes, these new tobacco products can be addictive. So banning new vaping products not only protects minors, but could also prevent the overall population of smokers from growing.
A ban on e-cigarettes and new tobacco products is a very wise move by our government, and shows its determination to tackle smoking addiction in the interest of public health. A smoke-free Hong Kong may well be on the horizon.
Edmund Poon, Kowloon Tong