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Thursday, May 23, 2019, 23:36
Anti-smoking agency urges LegCo to pass e-cigarette ban
By China Daily
Thursday, May 23, 2019, 23:36 By China Daily

Hong Kong’s sole statutory anti-smoking body on Thursday called on the city’s Legislative Council to pass the e-cigarette ban legislation as soon as possible.

Over 56 percent of Hong Kong residents have voiced support for the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Bill 2019, according to the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH), which cited a telephone survey it commissioned to the University of Hong Kong. The survey interviewed over 5,000 Hong Kong people 15 and older in 2017 and 2018.

Over 56 percent of Hong Kong residents have voiced support for the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Bill 2019, according to the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health

Under the proposed change to the law, anyone who imports, makes, sells or promotes new smoking products, including e-cigarettes, could be jailed for six months or fined HK$50,000 (US$6,370).

LegCo deliberation on the bill is currently adjourned and will resume on June 25.

ALSO READ: Hong Kong pushes ban on e-cigarettes

Although the prevalence of alternative smoking products — including electronic cigarettes and “heat not burn” products — is low, the growth is rapid, COSH Chairman Antonio Kwong said at a news conference on Thursday. He urged LegCo to pass a total ban as soon as possible and nip the growth in the bud.

COSH collected over 100,000 signatures from various social organizations in a signature campaign and received over 4,000 written submissions in support of the bill.

READ MORE: Six-month jail proposed as part of e-cigarette ban in HK

That shows the majority of the public supports the bill, Kwong said.

“Opportunity knocks but once,” Kwong said, adding that for the sake of public health, LegCo should not delay the bill.

Hong Kong had more than 620,000 daily smokers in 2017, of whom about 5,700 were e-cigarette users, according to a Hong Kong government survey released last year.

COSH also urged the government to develop long-term tobacco control policies and formulate a timeline for a total ban of smoking to achieve a smoking-free society.

Also speaking at the news conference was Lam Tai-hing, professor of the University of Hong Kong. Lam said that although some claim that alternative smoking products may reduce people’s exposure to harmful substances, this was not equivalent to a lower risk of tobacco-related diseases.

(Wang Xi contributes to this story)

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