Tobacco Control

Total ban on alternative smoking products

Alternative smoking products (ASPs), also known as novel tobacco/nicotine products, refer to the smoking products that are newly developed by the tobacco industry and do not fall into any of the categories of conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, cigar and pipe tobacco. The definition might vary across countries, but in Hong Kong, alternative smoking products (ASPs) include e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products (HTPs) and herbal cigarettes.

ASPs have not been on the market long enough for the harms to be thoroughly examined. Nonetheless, emerging research has shown the presence of harmful and carcinogenic substances in ASPs (some are in higher level than in conventional cigarettes) and the harms of use, such as increased respiratory and cardiovascular risks. Given also the inconclusive role in aiding smoking cessation and the potential to recruit non-smokers, especially adolescents, to nicotine use, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends regulations or prohibition of ASPs as appropriate, taking into account a high level of protection of human health.

Places that have prohibited or legislated to prohibit ASPs:

E-cigarettes Argentina, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, Gambia, India, Iran, Kuwait, Lao, Lebanon, Macau, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, Qatar, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Syria, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uruguay
HTPs Australia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Iran, Lao, Macau, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Panama, Qatar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda

Source: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

In Hong Kong, the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Cap. 371) applies to ASPs that the use in statutory no smoking areas is an offence and liable to a HK$1,500 fixed penalty. To further safeguard public health, the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Cap. 371) was amended  to legislate a complete ban on ASPs. Since 30 April 2022, it is an offence to import, promote, manufacture, sell or possess for commercial purposes ASPs. Promotion, manufacture, sale or possession for commercial purposes of ASPs is liable for a HK$50,000 fine and 6-month imprisonment, while broadcast of an ASP advertisement is liable for a HK$50,000 fine, with an extra HK$1,500 fine per day for continuing offences. Besides, under the Import and Export (Amendment) Ordinance 2023, import of ASPs is liable for a HK$500,000 fine and 2-year imprisonment upon summary conviction, or a HK$2,000,000 fine and 7-year imprisonment upon conviction on indictment.

Please visit the website of Tobacco and Alcohol Control Office of Department of Health for more details of the legislation.

Please visit the corresponding webpages for more information on the harm of e-cigarettes and HTPs.