Hong Kong’s policymakers approved the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Bill 2019 by a vote of 32 to three in the Legislative Council, roughly six years after the idea was first brought up.
Smoking rates in Australia have risen by over 21,000 to 2.4 million between 2013 and 2016. “For the first time ever, there has been no statistically significant reduction in the smoking rate, and an increase in the number of smokers in Australia,” said renowned public health Colin Mendelsohn back in 2017.

He had pointed out that for the first time, the smoking rates in Australia had exceeded those in the US. “This is despite plain packaging and the most expensive cigarette prices in the world.” A packet of cigarettes in Australia costs an average of $25.10, while in the UK it would cost $14.80 and $8.50 in the US. Sadly, several restrictions on safer alternatives later, the situation remains unchanged.

The public health expert who is an advocate for the use of e-cigarettes for harm reduction, pointed out that clearly the “punitive and coercive” approach that the country has adopted, is not working. And supporting his arguments, is data from the UK, where the opposite approach has been adopted and smoking rates have reached an all time low.

To this effect, says an article on the Post, while vaping may not be the ideal way to quit smoking, discarding it as a useful method when it is found effective, is nonsensical. “Vaping nicotine is one of the most effective means of quitting smoking. It’s not perfect – not consuming nicotine at all is preferable – but it is vastly safer than inhaling smoke into the lungs. It is not the nicotine that causes lung and heart disease, but the thousands of other chemicals in smoke.”

The UK still leads the way in tobacco harm reduction

The article goes on to refer to the often quoted Public Health England research, which is updated on a regular basis and keeps indicating year after year, that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. In fact, the agency’s seventh independent report on vaping in England, highlighted the following points.

  • “Vaping is the most popular aid (27.2%) used by smokers trying to quit in England in 2020
  • More than 50,000 smokers stopped smoking in 2017 with the aid of vaping
  • 38% of smokers believed that vaping is as harmful as smoking while 15% believed that vaping is more harmful”

Hong Kong passes vape ban

Sadly, Hong Kong’s vape ban has now been passed, and while it targets local business by preventing the sales and imports of vaping products. Local policymakers approved the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Bill 2019 by a vote of 32 to three in the Legislative Council, roughly six years after the idea was first brought up.

Tobacco harm reduction experts around the globe, including Mendelsohn, have been warning the Asian nation about the repercussions of implementing the ban. They ask local policymakers to refer to data from Australia as proof of their arguments.

Case Studies: Countries Applying WHO Guidelines Have Higher Smoking Rates

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In-house journalist covering international vaping news.