Professor Sophia Chan, formerly the Under Secretary for Food and Health and now the new Secretary for Food and Health in Honk Kong, has spoken many times about clamping down on vaping.
Sounding as if she was reading straight from a World Health Organisation (WHO) instruction leaflet, in 2016 she said electronic cigarettes are “very worrying as there are researchers suggesting that e-cigarettes contain harmful substances, and it seems the product is targeting young people.”
In fairness, she did get her information from WHO sources and then stopped listening to anything else after 2015. Plus, it should be noted from the minutes of that meeting, Hong Kong was already taking its lead from the draconian Singapore administration that had just banned “the importation, distribution and sale of any article, including e-cigarette, which was designed to resemble to a tobacco product.”
FactAsia’s John Boley is not impressed with the minister: “Half of some 650,000 smokers are condemned to death by Sophia Chan for her refusing to talk to any of us and she should get out of the office for not doing her job.”
Professor Riccardo Polosa has suggested Chan takes on board some alternative points of view: “If the public is misled about the risks of e-cigarettes and other products that have the harm reduction potential, millions of smokers will be dissuaded from switching to these much less hazardous alternatives.”
As Chan rigs the facts to suit her argument, through sponsoring bias pseudo science by Hong Kong academics, people in Singapore are beginning to loudly question whether their vape ban is achieving its goal of eradicating smoking. Their voices are being raised as Singapore embarks on its next anti-smoking step: banning smoking zones from busy outdoor areas.
Popspoken interviewed a number of young people. Chua Wee Siang said: “Teens will always be attracted to things that are banned. With travelling and the Internet, they will get their hands on things no matter how difficult it is.”
Their Twitter poll found that almost 50% of respondents believed vaping was the most effective anti-smoking measure, despite currently being banned.
Another interviewee, Wee Siang, added: “Instead of banning lower risk products like e-cigarettes and heated products, we should get tobacco companies to spend money on research and the government should promote their use as a way to eradicate smoking.”
It remains likely that, unless the populations of Hong Kong and Singapore demand a different approach, vape bans will continue to be part and parcel of daily life.