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The ban was announced last Wednesday by Chief Executive Carrie Lam during a policy address. Earlier this month, four medical groups in Hong Kong had called for a total ban on e-cigarettes, after local surveys indicated a 55% rise in primary schoolchildren who had tried vaping.

The Council on Smoking and Health, Federation of Medical Societies, Medical Association and Dental Association, joined forces in urging local policy makers to implement the ban. Daniel Ho Sai-yin, from the Council on Smoking and Health, pointed out that the surveys  found that the proportion of primary pupils who had tried e-cigarettes had increased from 2.9% in the 2016-17 scholastic year, to 4.5% in 2017-18.

Another country bans e-cigs, whilst leaving deadlier cigarettes widely available

The duty of public health officials is to weigh the benefits and adverse effects of any intervention and check where the balance lies, and in the case of e-cigarettes, the benefits outweigh the adverse effects.
Last June, Hong Kong’s lawmakers had proposed more sensible regulations that would have banned the sales of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn products and herbal cigarettes to minors, place health warnings on the packaging of these products, and also ban any advertising. Essentially these rules would have regulated these products in the same way as combustible cigarettes.

The following month, the Committee on Home-School Co-operation and the Federations of Parent-Teacher Associations had distributed questionnaires to parents of students in kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, in order to gauge their opinion about vaping.

The survey had included the participation of 3,374 parents, of whom 82% called for the ban. Sixty nine percent of the respondents said that the products are attractive to youngsters, 67% worried that their children would be enticed to start vaping, and 60% were afraid that the devices will lure their children to smoke real cigarettes.

Misinformation keeps informing policy

Sadly, the recent turn of events are an unfortunate example of how misinformation can influence policy. Several public health experts around the world, will be disappointed to see such entities failing to see the devices as an opportunity to end the current smoking epidemic.

In a blog earlier this month, renowned anti-smoking activist and researcher Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos explained that the risk of dependence on nicotine and the risks associated with e-cigarette use cannot and shouldn’t be compared to the risks from smoking.

Farsalinos explained that the duty of public health officials is to weigh the benefits and adverse effects of any intervention and check where the balance lies. Farsalinos added that in the case of e-cigarettes, the benefits outweigh the adverse effects, and this needs to be taken into account.

Read Further: South China Morning Post

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