Both the tobacco industry and local health organizations are planning to lobby against proposed e-cig regulations, ahead of a Legislative Council debate taking place in Hong Kong next week. The motion to tax e-cigarettes in the same way as their combustible counterparts, has evoked major debates as many feel that certain important details are being overlooked.
However while the tobacco industry considers such conditions too harsh, other entities consider these regulations lax. “If the products are available in the market, they should be taxed in the same way as tobacco,” said the city’s anti-smoking body, the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health. “Their selling price should not be lower than cigarettes so that the public will not be attracted to using them just because they are cheap.”
E-cig regulations should be relative to risks
Public Health experts would be disappointed to see that Hong Kong’s anti-smoking organizations are failing to see the opportunity in using the devices as smoking cessation tools.
On the other hand, the Coalition on Tobacco Affairs, said that taxing the new products as if they were cigarettes was unfair as e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. “E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco content and have very different health risks,” said accurately the coalition’s chairwoman Christine Hu. “They should not put the same health warnings on the packs, or tax them in the same way as cigarettes.”
Vaping is on the increase
This increase in e-cigarette use should be celebrated as in countries where a similar pattern was observed, smoking rates have dropped significantly. However last June, legislator of the Federation of Trade Unions Kwok Wai-keung, had announced that as a result of this increase in popularity of e-cigarettes, the current administration would be proposing a ban on the products.
Hong Kong’s ultimate target is to decrease smoking rates
On announcing the latest e-cig regulations, the Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee said that the government’s target was to reduce the local smoking rate below the 10% of the previous year. The proposals will be subject to debate at Legco’s health panel meeting on Tuesday, where all interested parties will have the opportunity to lobby local lawmakers in order to revise the existing proposals.
Read Further: South China Morning Post