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Hong Kong bans sale of e-cigarettes amid concern of use by minors

Hong Kong is moving to ban e-cigarettes in an effort to curb use by minors, Bloomberg reported Oct. 10.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the ban during a policy address and said afterward that she had received about 3,000 letters this year against the ban, Bloomberg reported. The move follows a June legislative proposal to regulate e-cigarettes — which produce a nicotine-infused and often flavored vapor — in the same manner as conventional cigarettes and tobacco products, according to the report.

The ban was quickly denounced by industry group the Coalition on Tobacco Affairs, and a Philip Morris International Inc. spokesperson said concerns about underage use could be better addressed through education and regulation, according to the Bloomberg report. The industry group said none its members sell e-cigarettes or other smokeless devices in Hong Kong.

At least 27 other countries have banned e-cigarettes on advice from the World Health Organization, according to Bloomberg.

Sale of e-cigarettes is allowed in the U.S., though the Food and Drug Administration is in the midst of a crackdown on the sale of the devices to minors.

The federal agency in September issued warnings and fines to 1,300 retailers that it said sold the devices to minors and is requiring five companies — Juul Labs Inc., Altria Group Inc., British American Tobacco PLC's Reynolds American Inc., Imperial Brands PLC's Fontem Ventures and Japan Tobacco Inc.-owned Logic — to submit plans by mid-November detailing how they intend to curb e-cigarette use by underage teens.