The government says it is standing firm on a proposal to impose a complete ban on the sale, import and manufacturing of e-cigarettes and other heated tobacco products, as the bill proceeds to the full Legislative Council for a second reading.
The amendment bill was introduced in February 2019, but the vetting process had been deadlocked – as some lawmakers said heated tobacco products should only be regulated.
Speaking at a Legco bills committee today, health secretary Sophia Chan Siu-chee said a total ban on alternative tobacco products is necessary.
She said the nicotine levels in e-cigarettes are similar to those in traditional cigarettes, while both can cause addiction.
The health chief also cited a recent study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong showing that teenagers consuming heated tobacco products have a higher chance of having respiratory diseases than those consuming traditional ones.
“I hope the legislation can be passed by the end of this Legco term next month,” she said, after the city’s largest party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, earlier threw its support behind the proposal.
However, Liberal Party’s Peter Shiu Ka-fai said he and his party members will continue their fight for the proposal to be amended.
“I will agree to ban those e-cigarettes, but I will try to [push to] regulate those heated tobacco products for Hong Kong. We will try to exempt the R&D for those new heated products, and also for manufacturing those new products – not for Hong Kong market, but for export to other countries,” Shiu said.
“I think the government will not agree with those amendments, but I will try to convince other Legco members to support them,” he added.
Apart from the DAB, the Federation of Trade Unions and the New People’s Party have also expressed support for a blanket ban.