Why must Hong Kong ban e-cigarettes?

  • Instead of a full vaping ban, better information on the pros and cons may be more beneficial to public health
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 December, 2018, 2:26pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 December, 2018, 2:25pm

I am writing in response to the likely full ban on e-cigarettes and other new tobacco products in Hong Kong.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced in her policy address the government’s intent to ban the use of e-cigarettes and related vaping products. I disagree with this idea, not least because implementing a full ban may cause many technical problems, as listed by the previous administration.

Actually, I understand why the government has this worry about more minors becoming interested in e-cigarettes and harming their health. But a full vaping ban is not the way to go about it; better information on the pros and cons may be of greater benefit. For existing smokers, e-cigarettes are better, as they only give out nicotine vapour and have fewer cancer-causing substances than in conventional tobacco cigarettes.

A lot of e-cigarette users can testify that they can help lower the use of traditional cigarettes, and sometimes help smokers quit completely, so vaping can reduce the risk of developing tobacco-related diseases. In the long term, it saves public money spent on treating diseases. In this way, e-cigarettes might arguably be considered as offering a net benefit to public health and public finances.

Interestingly, in “advanced” nations like the US and UK, e-cigarettes are not banned outright. The major concern is that teenage non-smokers will use e-cigarettes as a gateway to tobacco smoking. But then, if the government bans e-cigarettes, who knows if kids wishing to smoke may not just go straight for the real thing?

Kam Yung Kwan, Yau Yat Cheun