Damien on… E-Cigs, Vaping And Hong Kong
Earlier in these columns, this writer has banged on a lot about the issues surrounding e-cigs and vaping.
Chiefly the benefits to vapers; it’s LITERALLY a thousand times safer than sticking burning leaves in your gob and costs a TINY fraction of the amount – versus the problem for governments; economies which rely on extortionate (up to 1,000%) tax being levied on tobacco are now being SABOTAGED by CHINA, who INVENTED, DEVELOPED and mostly MANUFACTURE the e-cig devices.
Well, the stats are now in – and some of the results are surprising.
As expected, a number of countries have BANNED them (although curiously, mainly in Scandinavia and central and south America).
And obtusely, most of their governments are using DRUG LAWS to ban only those containing NICOTINE, by treating e-cigs as Smoking Cessation Devices – despite the fact that NO-ONE has ever claimed them to be such.
Unlike with nicotine gum and patches, no-one is pretending they are for those who wish to GIVE UP NICOTINE – rather, merely bring its method of delivery into THIS millennium.
E-cigs are NADS (“Have you seen my NADS?”) It stands for Nicotine Alternative Delivery System.
But by deviously classifying e-cigs and juice as MEDICAL devices and MEDICINES, their SALE and USE can effectively be BLOCKED. This is reminiscent of how America banned alcohol, during Prohibition – by shifting the ISSUE (in that case, to taxation).
However, against ALL expectations, many countries’ governments have (at least, for the MOMENT) taken a PERMISSIVE line on vaping (the only main restriction being to limit it to over-18s) INCLUDING those with the most SWINGEING tobacco taxes.
This historian has a theory on the thinking behind this – could it be they realise that draconian laws to prevent what is obviously in the interests of health and safety will make them look ridiculous (even more so than usual) given how they have demonised cigarettes for decades – and believe that uptake will be SLOW anyway, allowing them to shift the tax burden elsewhere at a speed no-one’ll notice?
And might they have done some maths on how much they can SAVE on healthcare, decorating and other costs – and figure that will help LESSEN the financial pressure on their economies?
Or maybe the dumb bastards are just so far out of touch with what is going on out there in the Real World that they simply haven’t given the matter serious thought AT ALL?
If so, they will soon realise the matter is WORTH serious thought.
These days, many poor people in countries with high tobacco taxes have to consider whether to smoke OR EAT – so it won’t take long for THEM to switch.
Indeed, early indications are that Britain (which contains some VERY poor people, facing a 1,000% tobacco tax) has gone for vaping in a BIG WAY. 700,000 vapers in 2012 – TRIPLING to 2,100,000 by 2013.
If that trend continued – at the time of this typing, ALL of Britain’s smokers should have converted! (I wouldn’t know – I escaped to the Orient).
So what of Hong Kong?
Well, its government appears to have established the Gold Standard for monumental STUPIDITY on this issue. First, like other banners, they classified e-cigarettes and juices as MEDICINAL – theoretically lumping them in with drugs like CRACK COCAINE.
However, they claim they will NOT JAIL TOURISTS who bring them into Honkers for their own use.
Apparently, they are not THAT stupid.
Nevertheless, they DO have the MOST draconian anti-vaping laws in the World (up to two years in the slammer, just for possession) – the question is WHY?
The taxation issue MIGHT be the cause – in HK, cigarettes cost about three times what they cost in China and one can only bring nineteen (yes – NINETEEN!) of them in duty free, but given the VAST WEALTH of the former colony, that seems somewhat putrid.
China mostly permits full use of e-cigs (which is hardly surprising, given they MAKE nearly all of them) although as with everything else Chinese, there are regional variations.
And following its re-acquisition of HK, you would have expected the Honks to fall into line with the reinstated Mother Country. But no.
Of course, like in every other developed country in the World, HK’s anti-vaping laws are unenforcable. No country which possesses an interweb and small packet post can stop or even significantly slow the flow of vaping devices and juice.
But until the idiot Hong Kong government gets its collective head out of its arse, those nicotine addicts unfortunate enough to LIVE there had best take the same meticulous care HIDING their vaping devices and juice – as those crack cocaine users take, hiding their STASH.