Gov’t proposes prohibition of distribution, import and transport of e-cigarettes

Macau authorities have proposed a prohibition of the production, sale, distribution, import, export and transport of e-cigarettes and vapes in the SAR.

According to changes proposed today by the Executive Council to the local tobacco control law offenders would be punished with a MOP4,000 (US$500) for any of these actions, with private entities handed a fine between MOP20,000 and MOP200,000 possibly imposed.

Under the current law an e-cigarette is defined as any product, or any component thereof, which can be used to inhale vapor, with or without nicotine, by means of a mouthpiece, including a cartridge, a reservoir, as well as the device without a cartridge or reservoir.

The sale of electronic cigarettes in the city was already restricted since 2017, with the proposed amendment to expand the scope of the restrictions.

Still, Health Bureau Director, Alvis Lo, noted that smoking e-cigarettes inside the city would not be illegal unless done in designated non-smoking areas as according to the current law.

However, if for example someone carrying his own personal vape or e-cigarette while entering the city could also be fined MOP4,000.

“The use of electronic cigarettes is harmful to health, namely, it causes harmful effects to pregnant women, children and adolescents, and also exposing non-smokers to nicotine and other harmful chemicals,” Lo noted today (Friday).

When asked why similar restrictions are not proposed for other tobacco products, Lo indicated that health authorities are bent on progressively controlling smoking in the city with several measures we are advanced in the future as part of efforts towards a “non-smoking city”.

Inquired why the prohibition would also cover e-cigarettes that do not include the use of nicotine, the Health Bureau noted even without the use of nicotine, such devices can also include materials possibly hazardous to people’s health.

“These devices have a vaporiser that can sometimes include unknown substances. This is something that worries us”

Lo underlined that in recent years efforts have been made to reduce smoking rates in young adults, with statistics showing that consumption of ‘traditional’ cigarettes for young people over 15 years of age dropped to 10.7 per cent as of 2019.

However, while the rate of children between 13 to 15 years of age who were said to have smoked traditional cigarettes was said to have dropped from 6.1 per cent to 3.8 per cent, and rates of residents in the same age bracket were said to have increased from 2.7 per cent increased to 4 per cent.

As for the possible use of e-cigarettes for people attempting to quit smoking, Dr. Lo stated that international studies have “proved this method was inefficient” to kick the habit.

“We support any resident that wants to quit smoking. It is complex work that may require some medications. Residents can go to any health centre and ask for assistance. Smoking rates in the city have decreased annually, and the success rate for people who have reached out to the health services to quit smoking is at about 43 per cent,” Lo added.