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June 7, 20240

After Banning Vape Sales, Hong Kong Wants to Outlaw Personal Use

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Jim McDonald

Hong Kong could soon ban personal use and possession of vapes and heated tobacco products if the health ministry has its way. The country has prohibited the sale and import of vaping products since 2022. 

“We will fully ban all alternative smoking products,” health secretary Lo Chung-mau told a news conference yesterday, according to French news service AFP. “Alternative smoking products” is the term used by government officials to describe nicotine products like vapes (which emit no smoke).

Lo said he hopes the ban will be introduced as legislation this year. Deputy health secretary Eddie Lee said a “blanket ban,” including on possession and use by ordinary citizens, has “become a consensus in society.”

Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China, and is located just a few miles south of Shenzhen, China—the vaping industry capital of the world. 

In recent years, China has moved to assume tighter control of Hong Kong, but even China’s strict domestic vaping rules aren’t as harsh as Hong Kong’s. (Macau, another Chinese SAR, has also imposed a ban on vape sales.)

Under current Hong Kong law, individuals caught importing vaping products can face up to seven years in jail and a fine of two million Hong Kong dollars (about $256,000 U.S.), according to AFP. Black market sellers can be jailed for up to six months.

It’s unclear if the health ministry wants new penalties for people caught using vapes, or if the punishments designed for commercial violators would also be applied to individuals.

Hong Kong has a population of 7.4 million people living in an area of just 400 square miles directly south of mainland China. It has been under Chinese control since 1997.

Several dozen countries have some form of vape ban, but few have criminalized possession as Hong Kong is threatening to do.

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Jim McDonald

Vaping since: 12 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: RY4-style tobaccos, fruits

Expertise in: Political and legal challenges, tobacco control haters, moral panics

Jim McDonald

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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