Hong Kong to impose 10 new tobacco control policies

7 June 2024

By Catharina Cheung, Time Out

Vapes and e-cigarettes face being banned soon in the city

As part of ongoing efforts to create a ‘tobacco-free Hong Kong’, the government announced 10 new policies on tobacco control on Thursday, June 6. Most notably, some of these measures involve prohibiting all flavoured cigarettes and smoking alternatives such as vapes and electronic cigarettes.

Hong Kong’s new measures towards handling tobacco products include introducing a new duty-paid labelling system, expanding non-smoking areas within the city and increasing the fine for breaching these limits, and raising the maximum penalty for evasion of tobacco duty to a $2 million fine and seven years of imprisonment. Smoking while queuing in public will also be banned, as will providing cigarettes to people who are underaged. The warning messaging on cigarette packets will also be expanded to full coverage, so manufacturers will no longer be able to use packaging to make tobacco products more enticing.

The part of these new regulations that will affect the majority of younger smokers in Hong Kong is undoubtedly the ban on vapes, electronic cigarettes, and heated tobacco products. A policy back in 2022 had already prohibited the import and sale of such goods in Hong Kong, but soon even possession for personal use will be against the law. Since flavoured cigarettes also work in a similar vein to make smoking more appealing, these will also be banned.

In order to decrease exposing citizens to second-hand smoke, there will be more no smoking zones implemented around Hong Kong on top of the existing banned locations such as in indoors restaurants, shopping centres, near hospitals and schools, and on public transport. The penalty for flouting the rules in smoking zones will be doubled from $1,500 to a fine of $3,000.

Legislative proposals and the details of implementation still need to be ironed out, but the Health Bureau is aiming to introduce these proposed measures into the Legislative Council by the end of this year.