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Hong Kong, China Officially Lifts the Ban on Electronic Cigarette Transportation!




Hong Kong, China Officially Lifts the Ban on Electronic Cigarette Transportation! The “2023 Import and Export (Amendment) Bill” Approved

Source: Gewu Consumer Official Account



        Recently, according to local media in Hong Kong, the Legislative Council has passed the final reading of the "2023 Import and Export (Amendment) Bill", officially approving the inclusion of alternative smoking products (commonly known as electronic cigarettes) transported through Hong Kong by sea, air, and land-air combined transportation into the exemption category. In simple terms, the previously banned transportation of electronic cigarettes is now officially allowed.


        According to relevant reports, Frank Chan Fan, the Secretary for Transport and Housing, pointed out that the prohibition of electronic cigarette transportation was one of the main factors leading to the decline in freight volume. Mainland China is the major production area for electronic cigarettes globally, and Hong Kong is one of the most important transit hubs. Previously, the majority of alternative smoking products from the mainland were transported through Hong Kong to overseas markets. In order to maintain the competitiveness of Hong Kong International Airport and consolidate Hong Kong's position as an international shipping hub under the national 14th Five-Year Plan, it was necessary to amend the legislation.


        Furthermore, Frank Chan Fan also mentioned that apart from the impact of global economic and pandemic factors, the prohibition of electronic cigarette transportation was also a major factor contributing to the decline in freight volume. Since the ban on electronic cigarette transportation via Hong Kong starting from April 30, 2022, the air cargo volume at Hong Kong International Airport has recorded a significant decline. From May to December 2022, the average air cargo volume at Hong Kong International Airport decreased by 20% compared to the same period in 2021, approximately 710,000 tonnes, including the impact from electronic cigarettes and other goods lost due to the cessation of the "parallel trading" operations.


        Previously, reporters had been tracking the progress of lifting the ban on electronic cigarette transportation in Hong Kong through various tweets. Public reports indicate that the "2021 Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Ordinance" came into full effect on April 30, 2022, prohibiting the transportation of electronic cigarettes from the mainland to Hong Kong in any form (such as land and sea transportation), followed by exporting them via air from Hong Kong.


        Afterward, the discussion on whether to lift the ban on electronic cigarette transportation was put on the agenda. During the meeting of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on November 28, 2022, discussions were conducted on "regulating the transportation of electronic cigarettes". At that time, the Transport and Logistics Bureau of Hong Kong planned to submit proposed amendments to the legislation on the transportation of electronic cigarettes to the Legislative Council in early 2023, aiming to relax the restrictions on their transportation.


        During the November meeting, besides the direct decline in freight volume as mentioned by Frank Chan Fan, a member of the Legislative Council pointed out that the loss of electronic cigarette transportation businesses also had an impact on other freight businesses. He stated that the industry refers to electronic cigarettes as "heavy cargoes" (small in volume but large in weight) which are usually transported together with other "light cargoes" (e.g., clothing) to maximize transportation efficiency. However, now that the transportation of "heavy cargoes" is prohibited, it has also resulted in the partial loss of other freight.


        According to estimations in the logistics industry, there are about 470 freight forwarding companies in Hong Kong engaged in the business of electronic cigarette transportation, accounting for one-third of the total number of freight forwarding companies. The annual volume of electronic cigarette transportation handled by these companies is nearly 330,000 tonnes. The ban on electronic cigarette transportation has had a significant and far-reaching impact.


        On March 22, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government released legislative proposals related to electronic cigarette transportation under the "2023 Import and Export (Amendment) Bill". Under the proposed legislation, the government would establish an enhanced regulatory regime managed, supervised, and enforced by Hong Kong Customs to strengthen the supervision of electronic cigarette transportation via combined transportation routes, thus reducing the risk of electronic cigarettes entering the local market during the transit process.


        Subsequently, on May 17, the Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics published a document on its official website, stating that they had learned that Hong Kong Customs has established a "super-enhanced" safety regime for the combined transportation of electronic cigarettes. The measures mainly include: requiring freight companies/operators to register with customs and comply with stringent safety specifications (e.g., using customs-approved electronic locks and GPS tracking for route and location, installing closed-circuit televisions, etc.), conducting risk assessments based on reported cargo data (the declared quantity and content at departure must match the cargo data upon arrival at Hong Kong Airport), using designated routes (strictly following specific routes without deviations), real-time monitoring by customs throughout the process, and direct transportation of goods to the airport cargo terminal after passing customs clearance (no intermediate stop at consolidators' warehouses for cargo consolidation). For combined air and sea transportation, the goods will undergo aviation security checks at the Hong Kong International Airport Logistics Park in Dongguan before being shipped to Hong Kong

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