Despite the fact that china itself is a major centre for the manufacture and development of e-cigarettes, Hong Kong has recently announced a total ban on vaping. This ban came as a surprise to many as Hong Kong had previously said that they would be regulating vaping products, not outlawing them completely.
There has been a lot of research into the effects of vaping and the evidence shows us that vaping is significantly safer than smoking and that vaping almost doubles the chances of smokers quitting tobacco products for good. This research is supported by a number of medical organisations around the world, including the NHS and the Royal College of Physicians.
With all the evidence in favour of vaping and supported by so many organisations, why has Hong Kong implemented a vaping ban?
Hong Kong has a population of over seven million people and is an autonomous region within the People’s Republic of China. Before 1997 Hong Kong had been a British colony for over a hundred years and despite returning to China it remains a special administrative region which means it has its own currency, laws and political system.
Hong Kong’s special status is why it’s able to implement a vaping ban despite China being a centre for vaping production and development.
The vaping ban not only makes e-cigarettes illegal, it also applies to other alternatives to tobacco cigarettes like herbal cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
The ban is particularly confusing and frustrating as Hong Kong has no plans to ban traditional tobacco cigarettes. This means that smoking remains legal despite causing millions of deaths each year, but vaping, which is significantly safer and proven to help people quit smoking, is illegal.
It’s easy to see why this vaping ban is upsetting a lot of people and many have speculated that the reason why cigarettes remain legal is that they are a huge source of tax money for the Hong Kong government. So, it looks like Hong Kong is prioritising money over the health of its citizens.
Worryingly, Hong Kong’s health minister, Sophia Chan Siu-chee also implied that the ban could become stricter.
Unanticipated Consequences Of Vaping Ban
Hong Kong had considered introducing a vaping ban in 2016, but backed down after other government departments suggested that the ban would be difficult to implement. As well as the administrative problems of banning vaping, there are concerns that the ban will only encourage the illegal trade of vaping products.
The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH) argued against the original plan to regulate vaping products and pushed for either a complete ban or extremely high taxes to discourage vaping. This makes it look like COSH is motivated by eliminating or reducing any competition to the tobacco industry.
The information given on the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health tobacco control website is a decade out of date. This information ignores all the evidence supporting vaping as significantly healthier than smoking and a proven way to help smokers quit tobacco for good.
Disagreement from healthcare organisations around the world
Professionals and healthcare organisations have protested the Hong Kong vaping ban, criticising the legislation as ill-conceived and contrary to the evidence about e-cigarettes. Campaigners have written to the government urging them to make the law more risk-appropriate and take advantage of the benefits of vaping instead of banning the new technology
The health risks of smoking
The biggest concern about the Hong Kong vaping ban is the effect it will have on smokers trying to quit.
Smoking produces thousands of chemicals which have a strong connection to cancer as well as heart disease, lung disease and other illnesses like emphysema and bronchitis. Around half of smokers will die as a result of smoking and about ten percent of all people killed by smoking related illness are non-smokers.
Research has shown that vaping is significantly safer than smoking and organisations like Public Health England have supported these results. As well as being safer than smoking, vaping has also been shown to almost double the chances of smokers quitting for good.
Vaping And Quitting Smoking
Organisations like The Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England have supported the evidence that vaping almost doubles the chances of smokers quitting cigarettes for good.
Research has also shown that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking. So, banning vaping only makes it harder for smokers to give up cigarettes. This puts smokers lives in danger as well as the lives of those around them through passive smoking which kills around ten percent of people who die from smoking related illnesses.
The Hong Kong vaping ban means that smokers will find it harder to quit while the government continues to collect huge tobacco taxes. The government’s claim that this is because of health concerns regarding vaping is completely unfounded and in reality vaping is much less harmful and proven to help smokers quit.
The vaping ban in Hong Kong has a lot of people shocked and confused as the legislation seems to be based on outdated misconceptions and rumours and is likely to damage the health and wellbeing of Hong Kong citizens.
Vaping has been proven to be significantly safer than smoking and almost doubles the chances of smokers quitting for good. This means that smokers in Hong Kong will be less likely to kick their harmful and often deadly habit which is bad news for smokers who want to give up and also victims of passive smoking.
There are also concerns that the ban on vaping will encourage the illegal trade of vaping products.
Hopefully Hong Kong will do a u-turn on this ban and instead implement vaping laws based on the growing amount of evidence showing that vaping is significantly safer than smoking and can almost double the chances of smokers quitting for good.