The Hong Kong Legislative Council has dropped plans to impose a blanket ban on vaping products. The ban was proposed more than a year and a half ago and had met with support in many areas of the Hong Kong government. However, there was considerable opposition too. The ban would have seen it become illegal to sell any products related to vaping in the province. It would also have made manufacturing of these products illegal, and this is where the opposition began.
Hong Kong lies just south of Shenzhen, China, where most vaping products sold around the world are manufactured. Many top vaping companies, such as SMOK, Vape4Ever, Vaporesso transport their products through the massive shipping facilities in Hong Kong. Hong Kong remains a semi-autonomous province of The People’s Republic of China, which took back control of the 400 square-mile area in 1997. China promised to leave Hong Kong to limited self-rule for 50 years, in an agreement that saw the sign-over complete, but lately China has begun moves to end this.
Clearly, as the vaping industry is Hong Kong led in terms of manufacturing and development, a ban of the type proposed would have resulted in the loss not just of jobs, but of an entire industry which would have seen the need to move elsewhere at great expense. However, the ban has been lifted for now, but it remains to be seen what will happen in the future.
Travelling and Vaping
Hong Kong is a popular destination for travellers as it is a unique proposition: a highly affluent and surprisingly westernised province on mainland China that offers a chance to experience a one-off place and atmosphere. For many years that has been confusion with regards to vaping in Hong Kong and the legality of bringing vape oils and other products into the country. The ban would, of course, have made this clear and without doubt. For now, visitors may remain advised to buy their vaping products while in Hong Kong, as the laws regarding import and export remain unclear.
Indeed, when the ban was being devised for implementation, the Government intended to include a clause that permitted the confiscation of vaping products brought into the country by tourists. A penalty of 50,000 Hong Kong Dollars (about $6400) and possible jail terms would also be on the bill. It is estimated that, for example, as many as 35,000 British people who vape visit Hong Kong each year. Thus, the impact of a ban would not just affect visitors from across the world, but also the 7 million people who live in Hong Kong.
Vaping vs. Tobacco
What is interesting is that, despite concerns about vaping safety which led to the proposed and currently postponed vaping ban, a similar bill banning tobacco products in which public smoking has been banned throughout Hong Kong did not include any restrictions on the sale or the importation of cigarettes. The penalties suggested for vaping offences – should they come into play – are also noticeably more stringent than those in the Tobacco Bill. This despite vaping having been shown to be less harmful in just about every area than vaping.
The fight against the vaping bill may have been won for now, but the future remains unclear. What is clear is that this is a massive industry in the nearby region and one that needs careful consideration. If you are planning to visit Hong Kong, keep an eye on the law and its current state, and to stay safe buy your vaping products while you are there, and you will find plenty of choice.