Health Secretary Doubts HK Lifting E-cig Embargo

Regulations by Ashe Wong; Ellesmere Zhu
Health Secretary Doubts HK Lifting E-cig Embargo
Sophia Chan Siu-chee, former Secretary for Food and Health in Hong Kong, warns against the risk of re-exporting e-cigarettes through the region and advocates for increased tobacco taxes and expanded smoke-free areas.

Sophia Chan Siu-chee, former Secretary for Food and Health in Hong Kong, and her successor Lo Chung-mau, have both voiced concerns over the re-exportation of e-cigarettes through Hong Kong, warning that this could hinder the region's tobacco control efforts, reports the standard HK ( Chan suggests that the territory could benefit from higher tobacco taxes and a greater number of no-smoking areas.


The current smoking rate in Hong Kong is 9.5%, a significant decrease from the 23% rate in the 1980s due to tobacco-control policies. However, Lo notes that the tax on a pack of cigarettes in the region falls below the 75% price proportion recommended by the World Health Organization, indicating room for an increase.


In February, the cost of a pack of 20 cigarettes rose by 30%, requiring smokers to pay an additional HK$12. The government aims to prevent citizens from smoking by regulating the tobacco supply and decreasing the promotion of tobacco sales. They will launch a public consultation next month to address tobacco-related issues.


Since April last year, the import, manufacture, sale, and possession of e-cigarettes have been prohibited. However, re-exportation through air cargo is exempted in an effort to support the logistics sector, a move Chan believes could undermine efforts to ban these products.


Government statistics reveal that about 70% of smokers in Hong Kong have never attempted to quit, and around one-third of primary school children are exposed to second-hand smoke at home.


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