Ban vaping in Hong Kong for the sake of its youth

  • Over a third of respondents to a 2017 survey who had tried e-cigarettes were aged 15-29, highlighting the need to protect them from this ‘sugar-coated trap’
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 5:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 5:02pm

I refer to the Consumer Council’s call on Monday for the government to urgently push ahead with its plan to ban the sale of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn or similar products, as it warned about the wide availability of the devices in Hong Kong. I support this call.

There are thousands of flavours of e-cigarette on the market, targeting youngsters who are naturally curious and crave novelty. A survey last year by the Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) found over a third of respondents (37.4 per cent) who had tried e-cigarettes were aged 15-29, significantly higher than the other age groups. The council calls it a “sugar-coated trap”.

Moreover, a survey by Baptist University on e-cigarettes, commissioned by COSH, found that such devices can contain harmful substances, including formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and poly-brominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Formaldehyde and PAHs are known carcinogens, while PBDEs are associated with thyroid hormone disruption and fertility issues.

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Therefore, I support the proposal to impose a full ban on e-cigarettes and other new tobacco products. Some may argue as to why the government will not give Hongkongers more freedom to choose. However, such a move is needed to safeguard public health. At least 16 countries or regions have already banned e-cigarette sales, including Singapore, Thailand, Brazil and even Macau.

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At the moment, it is easy for young people in Hong Kong to get hold of e-cigarettes, and some local shops even have their own websites or social media platforms to facilitate online purchases, or offer “trial smoking”, according to the council. Smoking puts public health at risk, and a total ban would be justified.

P.H. Cheung, Tuen Mun