Hong Kong is The Next Area Proposing a Generational Tobacco Ban

Following in the footsteps of Malaysia and New Zealand, a public health consultation held in Hong Kong is proposing a generational tobacco ban. 

The public consultation consists of a nationwide survey which started last Wednesday and ends on September 30th. Health minister Lo Chung-mau said that the consultation is based on four anti-smoking strategies, among which a lifetime ban on cigarettes for locals born after a set date.

In New Zealand, a similar ban is in the works. This would come into effect in 2027 and ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone born in 2009. While last year, Malaysia’s health minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced a ban on the sales of cigarettes and safer nicotine alternative products to anyone born in 2005 and beyond.

About the new trend of generational bans
Tobacco harm reduction experts have warned that such bans, which fail to differentiate between cigarettes and safer alternatives, are detrimental to public health. In fact renowned international public health experts had written to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob warning him that the vape bill would eventually just create a large black market and fuel the illicit trade of the products. In the letter, academics and tobacco harm reduction experts David Abrams, Clive Bates, Ray Niaura and David Sweanor, said that prohibitionist approaches may have unintended consequences.

Earlier this year, David Sweanor, told Vaping Post that such measures, which on top of everything are tough to enforce, may be just a strategy used by policy makers to look committed without actually “changing the status quo.” “As has been repeatedly pointed out, the prohibition of psychoactive substances has a very poor track record. It is particularly questionable when the substance in question (nicotine) has negligible health risks and there are clearly viable low-risk alternatives that empower consumers rather than punishing them,” he added.

Another Asian nation’s fears about teen vaping
Meanwhile, Vietnam has been the most recent Asian country raising the alarm about teen vaping. In 2020, the Ministry of Health’s Legal Department Tran Thi Trang, said that the department would be proposing a ban on the sale, production and import of electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
Subsequently last March, the Ministry voiced its concern about an increase in use among minors. The Vietnam News Agency added that among 13-15 year olds, 3.5% reported vaping, up from 2.6% in 2019.

Vietnam really cannot afford to ban safer nicotine alternatives
In Vietnam, almost one in two adult males are current smokers. In fact the nation is ranked third among South-East Asian countries with the highest smoking prevalence. In light of this, would argue THR exerts, local authorities should really consider the fact that worldwide increases in vaping rates are parallel to decreased smoking rates.

A recent review of randomized controlled trials and network meta-analysis of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, found that smokers assigned to use nicotine e-cigarettes were more likely to remain abstinent from smoking, than those assigned to using licensed NRTs.

Titled, “A systematic review of randomized controlled trials and network meta-analysis of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation,” the study compared the effectiveness of nicotine e-cigarettes for smoking cessation with licensed nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) and nicotine-free based control conditions.

Sifting through data from thousands of studies, the research team identified that smokers who turned to vapes stayed off cigarettes significantly more than those in the control condition. “Smokers assigned to use nicotine e-cigarettes were more likely to remain abstinent from smoking than those assigned to use licensed NRT, and both were more effective than usual care or placebo conditions,” the concluded.