Hong Kong hopes to crack down on smoking by implementing bans on people who light up while waiting in queues, own alternative smoking products, and give tobacco products to anyone under 18 years old. At a press conference headed by the Secretary for Health Lo Chung-mau, officials revealed that they are also exploring how they can effectively prohibit people from lighting up while walking in public areas and ban the provision of tobacco products to people born after a certain year.

Authorities unveiled 10 short-term measures that they hope will encourage smokers in Hong Kong to kick the habit:

  1. No smoking in queues: The government will introduce a no-smoking-in-lines ban in phases, and start by prohibiting people from lighting up while waiting to enter public transport, themed parks, public playgrounds, or public healthcare institutes. 
  2. More no-smoking areas: Officials intend to increase the number of no-smoking areas in the city, and extend them to the exit and entry points of childcare centres, schools, elderly care homes, as well as specific spots in public hospitals and healthcare institutions.
  3. Increase penalties: Authorities will also double the penalty for lighting up in public from HK$1,500 to HK$3,000. 
  4. Ban an alternative smoking products: Authorities also plan to make the possession of vapes, e-cigarettes, and herbal cigarettes illegal, to make the 2022 ban on their sale more effective.
  5. Ban on flavoured tobacco products: The HKSAR government suggested that they will also ban fruit- or mint-flavoured tobacco products.
  6. Prohibit the supply of tobacco products to minors: The supply of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 will be illegal. Currently, Hong Kong law states that it is only illegal to sell such products to minors
  7. Standardise graphic health warnings: The design and warning markings on cigarette packaging will be standardised to reduce their appeal and attractiveness.
  8. New duty-paid labelling: The government will devise a system to differentiate duty-paid cigarettes from duty not-paid cigarettes. If cigarettes are sold at a level lower than the prevailing tobacco duty, the seller must provide proof that they are duty paid.
  9. Higher penalties, more prison time: Authorities will increase the penalty for any violation of its duty laws on tobacco products to HK$2 million from HK$1 million, and put imprisonment at up to 7 years. 
  10. Review the tobacco duty: Officials will review the effectiveness of the recent tobacco duty increase from HK$0.60 to HK$0.80, as announced by Financial Secretary Paul Chan in the 2024-2025 budget.
See also
Hong Kong Littering Fines To Double From HK$1,500 To HK$3,000, From October 22

During the press conference, Deputy Secretary for Health Eddie Lee said the government may face difficulties with enforcing laws related to smoking while walking, which is why authorities are studying “similar or comparable legislations in other places in the world to see how they can implement such arrangements in Hong Kong”. Lee government is also mulling the specifications for tobacco products, such as the “amount of nicotine involved in tobacco products, as well as the standardised appearance of cigarettes”.

Header image credits: Jon Siegel via Flickr

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From the Middle East to the Far East and a couple of places in between, Anjali has lived in no fewer than seven cities in Asia, and has travelled extensively in the region. She worked as a lifestyle journalist in India before coming to Hong Kong, where her favourite thing to do is island-hopping with her daughter. You can check out her musings on motherhood, courtesy her Instagram profile.

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