Hong Kong Phooey

Posted 15th April 2015 by Dave Cross
Hong Kong is a region shaped by history, having been the destination for Britain’s opium. It is highly possible that having 140 tons of drugs a year foisted on you may distort what is perceived as ‘reasonable’. Despite inventing the ecig and leading the world in the manufacture and supply of vaping equipment, China is struggling to work out where it sits in relation to vaping at home.

A conflict in oversight is logical in a country operating a one country, two systems policy. The confusion for visitors begins the minute they consult the Internet. While some sources advocate tolerance of vaping others recount incidents where shops have been closed and vapers arrested. Tourists seeking advice find hints on shop locations and current policy on sites like Reddit and Tripadvisor.

The official policy is that “smoking e-cigarette is banned in no smoking areas. No smoking areas include all indoor public areas and some outdoor areas such as school campus, public parks and beaches. Offenders are subject to a fixed penalty of fine HK$1,500.”

In 2009, the maximum penalty for possessing or selling e-cigarettes was a HK$100,000 fine and two years in prison. At the time the authorities announced that a single refill contained more nicotine than could be found in an entire pack of cigarettes.

Arrests were still taking place last year. A 30yr-old man was detained after caught selling eliquid even though the sale of vaping paraphernalia is now commonplace throughout the region. Suspicions were vocalised suggesting that the pharmaceutical licence he didn’t have was nothing more than the government seeking a cut of the profits.

Oddly, the strong line taken (at times) on vaping only covers the products containing nicotine. Reports have arisen of nicotine-free vape sticks that are openly and legally sold to children. Most UK-based vapers would be left slack-jawed at the news that sweet-flavoured devices are supplied with no warning or ingredient list, Stanton Glantz must be frothing at the mouth.


It is something the government plans on cracking down on, although all reports do not stretch as far as banning – just stricter enforcement of the current controls. The ChurnMag website is claiming, without any sourcing it must be said, that the government are considering an all-out ban on manufacture and sale. Given that the current global worth of this market to be estimated at £1.8billion this hardly seems likely. The claim is being denied by Chinese suppliers who believe that they will not be stopped from supplying the UK – even if some British politicians and Public Health officials hope they are.

But then the Chinese government has given little thought to the desires of The West ever since they were forced into paying 21 million silver dollars for the British opium they destroyed, beginning their Century of Humiliation. As a result of which they have taken great delight in stealing intellectual property and selling cheaper versions back to the markets the originals were designed in. This behaviour has been seen as retribution for the manner they’ve been treated over centuries.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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