Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said his bureau is considering adopting an anti-smoking body’s suggestion that the sale of electronic cigarettes be banned, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.
“We are going to carefully study the proposal for legislation,” Ko said Monday.
The Council on Smoking and Health urged the government to legislate against e-cigarettes after a survey it conducted found that 1.8 percent of respondents had tried them.
Among those aged 15-29, the proportion was 4.4 percent.
The phone survey of 2,400 Hongkongers was done between May and September last year.
Another survey, conducted by the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health in 2012/13, found that 1.1 percent of the 45,000 secondary students interviewed had smoked e-cigarettes.
That survey showed that the desire to smoke among those who smoked e-cigarettes was 74 percent greater than among those who smoked normal cigarettes only.
Those who smoked e-cigarettes as well as normal cigarettes had less desire to quit smoking.
While some stores that sell e-cigarettes claim their products contain very little nicotine and comply with Hong Kong law, the Department of Health said it has never received any application for the registration of e-cigarettes with nicotine in them, suggesting that such products available in the market are illegal.
Lam Tai-hing, a professor at HKU’s School of Public Health, said it is known that e-cigarettes contain toxic substances and are ineffective in helping people to quit smoking.
To avoid e-cigarettes becoming popular, a law banning the import and sale of e-cigarettes is necessary, Lam said.
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