SCMP: E-cig body tells Hong Kong officials to regulate industry, not ban its products

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A group promoting the use of e-cigarettes urged for regulation of the product rather than a total ban, claiming the latter could create a more active black market and easier importation.

The Asian Vape Association made its plea after the government announced plans to prohibit the import and sale of e-cigarettes in May last year and following Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s policy address in January this year in which he mentioned regulating the products.

But the Council on Smoking and Health said e-cigarettes should still be banned as previous studies had found they contained harmful and carcinogenic substances.

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The association’s chairman Nav Lalji suggested the government prohibit selling e-cigarettes to people aged 18 or younger and impose quality control standards.

He further argued that banning the products altogether would not help protect public health.

“A ban will just create a black market and people would be able to import these goods very easily, said Lalji, adding that Shenzhen across the border was a manufacturing hub for e-cigarettes. He said the group’s suggestion would be offered to the government in April.

“Consumers are now consuming products which are completely unregulated, even more dangerous than before,” he said.

Lalji said a rise in black market supply had been observed in Thailand and Singapore – countries that had enacted total bans on e-cigarettes. However, he could not provide figures on the additional quantity of illegal products seen in those countries.

He said the safe use of e-cigarettes was supported by experts, citing a report published by Public Health England in August last year that claimed e-cigarettes were 95 per cent less harmful than conventional cigarettes and could help smokers quit smoking.

But Antonio Kwong Cho-shing, chairman of the anti-smoking council, said that instead of using e-cigarettes as smoking cessation tools, smokers should seek smoking cessation services, which he said were mostly provided free of charge.

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