JANUARY 10 — In mild of the current announcement by the New Zealand authorities to ban cigarette and tobacco smoking for the following era of Kiwis, the discourse on making a smoke-free setting has turn into extra rampant globally.
Many international locations are considering whether or not they need to observe New Zealand’s radical footsteps.
As for Malaysia, there has all the time been stress from public well being advocates to outlaw cigarettes and smoking. Definitely, a whole ban on tobacco smoking and cigarettes appears preferrred for Malaysia as it would cut back the dangerous consumption of tobacco and enhance public well being for the following era.
Nevertheless, it can be seen as inhumane to power Malaysians that suffer nicotine dependancy to give up smoking cigarettes. There are even arguments towards New Zealand’s transfer, saying that it’ll restrict shoppers’ freedom of selection and in some way violate human rights.
Whereas recognising that vaping merchandise usually are not utterly innocent, the New Zealand Ministry of Well being acknowledges that vaping has the potential to contribute to the nation’s Smokefree 2025 imaginative and prescient. Moreover, New Zealand encourages vapers to hunt the assist of stop-smoking providers.
New Zealand places us able for thought. Whereas we goal to chop down tobacco smoking, there should even be a realistic approach for people who smoke to scale back their reliance on cigarettes. Luckily, Malaysia is on the right track find this resolution.
If we recall the Malaysia Finances 2022 announcement, the federal government will introduce an excise tax of RM1.20 per millilitre for nicotine-containing liquid or gel utilized in e-cigarettes and vape. On the similar time, the excise responsibility for non-nicotine liquid or gel might be elevated from RM0.40 per millilitre to RM1.20 per millilitre.
This announcement has additionally sparked debate among the many Malaysian public. On one hand, there are requires a restriction or a whole ban on vape and vaping merchandise as properly. The reasoning is that vape and e-cigarettes are nonetheless harmful, a declare which is supported by the Ministry of Well being.
However, the excise responsibility is seen as a promising progress, particularly among the many proponents of tobacco hurt discount methods.
Extra considerably, the taxation on vape merchandise is an indication that the federal government is starting to recognise the vape trade, which was valued at RM2.27 billion as of February 2021. The legitimisation of vape units and merchandise is significant if Malaysia plans to part out cigarette smoking amongst its residents.
Whereas vaping shouldn’t be utterly risk-free and protected from any well being hazards, Public Well being England states that vaping is not less than 95 per cent much less dangerous than smoking.
Professional impartial evaluate by Public Well being England concludes that some non-combustible nicotine merchandise equivalent to e-cigarettes, which have the potential to assist people who smoke give up smoking, are round 95 per cent much less dangerous to well being than flamable tobacco.
Due to this fact, within the strategy of banning tobacco smoking, the Malaysian authorities should additionally enable present people who smoke to make use of safer alternate options that may assist them cut back standard cigarette consumption.
On this sense, Malaysia ought to observe New Zealand’s footsteps. New Zealand has had a gradual decline in smoking charges amongst adults (from 16.6 per cent in 2014/2015 to 13.4 per cent in 2019/2020) as a result of their recognition of safer alternate options to cigarettes.
In the meantime, with tobacco hurt discount approaches not being prevalent right here, Malaysia has hardly made a dent on the smoking charges.
We nonetheless want to know the behavioural and cultural contexts of each cigarette people who smoke and vape shoppers in Malaysia earlier than setting an bold objective like New Zealand.
What’s extra essential is the encouraging institutional framework to attain the healthiest final result given the present circumstances. We can not merely power people who smoke to give up cigarette smoking straight away with out the best aids, which, amongst the already recognised nicotine substitute remedy interventions, additionally embrace the non-combustible nicotine merchandise as much less dangerous substitutes.
Once more, in Malaysia, the excise responsibility on vaping merchandise is step one in direction of the legitimacy of the e-cigarette trade. It must be famous that there are nonetheless different points with the taxation, such because the tax charges for the choice merchandise usually are not risk-proportionate compared to cigarettes, which can primarily deter people who smoke towards switching from smoking cigarettes to utilizing safer alternate options.
Nonetheless, these points could be rectified as we transfer ahead. It’s a studying course of for Malaysia.
* Fariq Sazuki is an economist at Bait Al-Amanah.
* That is the non-public opinion of the author or publication and doesn’t essentially signify the views of Malay Mail.