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Perception of heated tobacco products and support for regulations: a cross-sectional study in Hong Kong


Background Hong Kong has proposed banning the sale of heated tobacco products (HTPs). Perceptions of reduced harms and effectiveness for quitting combustible cigarettes (CCs) of HTPs due to their promotions may erode public support for regulations. We assessed the associations between perceptions of HTPs and support for regulations in Hong Kong.

Methods In two population-based landline surveys conducted in 2018–2019, 1985 respondents (51.4% male; 22.7% aged 60+ years) reported perceived relative harm of HTPs to CCs and effectiveness for quitting CCs, and support for five HTP regulations (ban on promotion and advertisements, use in smoke-free areas, sales to minors, registration before sale, sale licence) and a total ban on sale. Current and former smokers were oversampled due to low prevalence. Descriptive statistics were weighted to the general population. Associations were analysed, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, smoking status and ever HTP use.

Results 27.4% (N=515) of respondents perceived HTPs as less harmful, and 18.8% (N=1299) perceived them as effective for quitting CCs. Support was generally high (at least one regulation, 99.1%, N=1959; all five regulations, 66.8%, N=1114; total ban, 63.5%, N=946). Perceptions of reduced harm were associated with lower support for all five regulations (adjusted risk ratio 0.85, 0.75 to 0.96) and a total ban on sale (0.58, 0.51 to 0.66). Results were similar for perceptions of effectiveness for quitting.

Conclusions Lower support for HTP regulations and a total ban on sale were associated with perceptions of reduced harm and effectiveness for quitting CCs of HTPs in Hong Kong.

  • Non-cigarette tobacco products
  • Public opinion
  • Public policy

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