NNA Warns HK Tourists

Posted 18th April 2019 by Dave Cross
The Legislative Council of Hong Kong is proposing a new law to ban import and possession of safer nicotine products. The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) is saying that unwary tourists could be at risk of jail simply for possessing e-cigarettes, even though the UK government and health organisations recommend them.

The NNA is a registered UK charity staffed by consumer volunteers, formed to increase understanding about the benefits of the “new” risk-reduced nicotine products and a better recognition of long-term recreational use of nicotine as a powerful incentive for smoking cessation.

The Legislative Council of Hong Kong is proposing to make import and possession of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco illegal, complete with the threat of fines and jail terms of up to 6 months for transgressors.

The NNA writes that it, “strongly condemns the policy of banning safer nicotine products which have a proven track record of helping smokers who choose to quit, especially since the proposed law in Hong Kong will leave much more harmful cigarettes as the only source of legally available nicotine.”

NNA Trustee Sarah Jakes said: “E-cigarettes are a proven safer alternative to smoking and the UK boasts 1.7 million former smokers who have converted from smoking to exclusively vaping instead. Applying a ban on possession of products which have a successful track record of diverting smokers away from combustible tobacco is crazy.”

“Health groups in the UK rightly support tobacco harm reduction,” she continued, “as endorsed by the Behavioural Insights Team set up by government. Public Heath England also backs vaping and the Royal College of Physicians urges wide promotion of e-cigarettes to reassure and encourage smokers to use them, as does the government’s own Tobacco Control Plan.”

“Last year, Hong Kong welcomed approximately 570,000 visitors from the UK and current statistics say that around 6 per cent of those will be vapers. That is around 35,000 who could be at risk of being jailed simply for following advice to switch to e-cigarettes on the advice of public health authorities in this country.”

“Under these plans, UK vapers would visit Hong Kong at their peril with their e-cigarette and risk imprisonment or leave their device at home and get their nicotine from conventional cigarettes, which will still be available everywhere, and perfectly legal to smoke”, added Jakes.

“The Legislative Council may well believe that they are doing the right thing with their proposals, but criminalising possession of products designed to help smokers quit tobacco is in direct contrast to their stated aim to 'discourage smoking’.”

“The NNA advises that British vapers should make themselves aware of this proposed new law to avoid inadvertently facing prison, or just not visit Hong Kong at all.”

Clive Bates, a long-standing anti-smoking campaigner from the UK and former Director of Action on Smoking and Health, added: "I just can't believe they are thinking of banning e-cigarettes in Hong Kong. If a country wanted to destroy its hard-won reputation for innovation, technology and hospitality, it would prohibit new and better ways of quitting smoking and drive away visitors who have embraced this alternative to smoking. Vaping is at least 95% lower risk than smoking - why would Hong Kong ban vaping but protect smoking?"

 

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