The government of Hong Kong has proposed a fine of HK$50,000 and six months jail time for individuals found to be importing or selling e-cigarette products.

The city’s chief executive Carrie Lam proposed a total ban on vaping products in October last year after the government announced plans to regulate the industry.

Deputy secretary for Food and Health Amy Yuen hopes that the ban will help reduce access to alternative tobacco and nicotine products without criminalising end users.

Yuen said:

“It may not be feasible if we ban the use of these products. We also don’t want to disturb people too much. Regardless, we know these new products… are harmful to people. We have to stop them from being available everywhere,” she added.

“For users of these new products, the answer is not to go back to conventional smoking products. This is not what we are trying to do. We want them to quit altogether.”

Meanwhile secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan wrote that ‘the government’s top consideration is to protect public health’. However, there will be no ban on the import, sale or manufacture of combustible tobacco.

Strict controls on the public consumption of tobacco have helped reduce the smoking population of just 10 percent compared to a third of adults in mainland China, where 40 percent of the world’s cigarettes are consumed.