A total ban on e cigarettes has been called for in Hong Kong due to concerns about rising numbers of primary-school children trying vaping.
Four different health groups located in Hong Kong are asking for vaping to be banned entirely after finding, via local surveys, that there has been a fifty five percent rise in the number of children in primary school who say that they have tried vaping at least once.
The report, a result of a survey of 2076 children in 16/17 and 4,599 this year showed that the number of children who admitted trying vaping in 2016-17 (school year) was 2.9% and that by 2017-18 this was recorded at an inflated 4.5%. The council on Smoking and Health, the Dental Association, Medical Association and the Federation of Medical Societies have joined forces to demand that the authorities consider new regulations which would completely ban the sale of e cigarettes as well as products such as herbal cigarettes and the newer “smokeless” products (where tobacco is heated not burnt) to children who are under-age. They have asked for increased regulation in terms of what advertising is allowed and want warnings putting on all packets and products, in the same way that the EU’s TPD regulations insisted upon here in the UK. These regulations would see all of these products, including e cigarettes, regulated in the same way that tobacco is and a push might be made for a total ban altogether.
Could E Cigarette Bans Cause More Harm Than Good?
Here at Go Smoke Free we firmly agree that children should not be smoking or vaping.It is a hobby for adults over the age of eighteen, or over the age set by any local authority and is primarily for those who have smoked to use as a healthier alternative. Advertising vaping equipment, e liquids or vaping as a whole to minors is a no-go and we agree that this should be clamped down on. We also believe that retailers found to be selling age restricted products to minors should face fines or prosecution. In all these things we agree with the Hong Kong panel who have reported their findings to the government.
We do not, however, believe that a blanket country-wide ban on e cigarettes is the answer. Indeed, a ban on all vaping could be detrimental overall to the country’s health. The reasoning behind this is simple. Since the introduction of e cigarettes and the rise in their popularity smoking numbers across all age groups has fallen. In England alone they are at the lowest level since the number of adults smoking was first recorded for statistical data. Vaping offers a healthier alternative to vaping and as such, eliminating access to vaping will likely result in higher smoker numbers, more illnesses and premature deaths caused by smoking, additional environmental pressures and a greater strain on healthcare services.
What About the Children Though?
No, children should not be vaping. They should not be smoking either. They also shouldn’t touch alcohol. They do though. Rather than banning everything that is age restricted we’d love to see more studies and more pro-active, practical solutions being in place to work with children on why they choose to do these things. Banning vaping altogether in Hong Kong or anywhere else is not going to deal with the core issues surrounding the choices that teenagers make.
The Other Side of the Vaping Coin
Vaping is relatively new if you compare it to smoking however thousands of studies have shown that smoking and vaping are nothing alike. WHO, the World Health Organisation, have classified over fifty chemicals found within tobacco cigarettes as toxic and as having the potential to cause cancer. On the flip side, Public Heath England, the government group responsible for the Go Smoke Free ban of 2007, have released findings which show that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than cigarette smoking. On the back of these findings, PHE have approached the government with a number of proposals which would make e cigarettes more accessible rather than less, and they have even asked for e cigarettes to be classified as medical devices as a cessation aid so that they may be given out on prescription by GPs to help smokers move away from the clearly very harmful tobacco smoking habit.
It is clear that vaping is not the harmful hobby some believe it to be and as such we hope that Hong Kong reconsiders their vaping ban proposals.
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