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April 25, 2019

Hong Kong Risks Huge British Tourism Losses with Vaping Ban

As many as 35,000 visiting British vapers yearly would be at risk of facing legal sanctions if the Hong Kong government bans possession of vaping products — or of cancelling plans to travel to the city at all.

According to the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), 570,000 U.K. residents visited Hong Kong last year, and about six percent of Britons vape. That’s 35,000 people who could be at risk of arrest and even imprisonment if Hong Kong follows through on its plan to prohibit importation of vapes.

The Hong Kong Legislative Council is currently considering legislation that would criminalize vaping products. If it passes, the new law would ban sales, manufacture, importation, distribution, or promotion of vapes and heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco products. Conviction could result in up to six months in jail and a fine of 50,000 Hong Kong dollars (about $6,370 U.S.).

“E-cigarettes are a proven safer alternative to smoking and the U.K. boasts 1.7 million former smokers who have converted from smoking to exclusively vaping instead,” said NNA Trustee Sarah Jakes in a statement. “Applying a ban on possession of products which have a successful track record of diverting smokers away from combustible tobacco is crazy.”

Hong Kong is less than an hour’s drive from Shenzhen, the center of the world’s vaping product production.

The NNA is a registered U.K. charity, staffed by volunteers, that was formed to increase understanding of low-risk nicotine consumer products like vapes, snus, and HNB tobacco products.

“I just can’t believe they are thinking of banning e-cigarettes in Hong Kong.”, said Clive Bates, a long-standing anti-smoking campaigner from the U.K. and former Director of Action on Smoking and Health. Bates and other public health advocates sent a letter to the Hong Kong Chief Executive last year, asking for reasonable regulation rather than prohibition. Now he’s left wondering what happened.

“If a country wanted to destroy its hard-won reputation for innovation, technology and hospitality, it would prohibit new and better ways of quitting smoking and drive away visitors who have embraced this alternative to smoking,” said Bates. “Vaping is at least 95 percent lower risk than smoking — why would Hong Kong ban vaping but protect smoking?”

There are almost two million exclusive vapers in the U.K., and many will probably avoid Hong Kong if a ban is approved.

Hong Kong is an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China, and has a population of 7.4 million. It is a special administrative region of China, with its own laws, governmental structure and currency. Hong Kong is less than an hour’s drive from Shenzhen, the center of the world’s vaping product production.

There are reasons other than harm reduction and personal choice that Hong Kong’s leaders should be nervous about their decision to ban vaping. Hong Kong is a former British colony, and an important world financial center with strong ties to U.K. businesses, as well as being a popular destination for U.K. tourists. There are almost two million exclusive vapers in the U.K., and many will probably avoid Hong Kong if a ban is approved. That’s a lot of potential tourists.

“Under these plans, UK vapers would visit Hong Kong at their peril with their e-cigarette and risk imprisonment or leave their device at home and get their nicotine from conventional cigarettes, which will still be available everywhere, and perfectly legal to smoke.”, says the NNA’s Sarah Jakes.

“The NNA advises that British vapers should make themselves aware of this proposed new law to avoid inadvertently facing prison, or just not visit Hong Kong at all.”

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep 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 recently joined 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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Jim McDonaldJulie CarterJesseCalvin Recent comment authors
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So the ban is not yet in place. Does this mean I can still take my vape gear with me and for personal use?

In Hong Kong for 3 Days then off to Indonesia where vaping is allowed for the rest of the Holiday, one place preventing me from being healthier so my whole holiday would go up in Cigarette smoke if I can get my gear through Hong Kong.


Thanks for sharing the valuable vape news about Hong Kong. I read your vape post everyday and I’m from Vape.hk. Wish we can collaborate in the future.

Julie Carter
Julie Carter

Hi Jim. My family are travelling to Vietnam on 13th July 2019 for my husbands 60th Birthday and have a one night stop over in Hong Kong. I have not smoked now for 4 years but vape with 1% nicotine. I know I have to carry in my hand luggage. Is the law in place yet in Hong Kong. I so want to take my vape with me. I think it is allowed in Vietnam. Can you please advise me on both countries. Thanking you in advance. Julie C

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