Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first authorized the legal sale of e-cigarettes in the United States in October this year, more and more countries have begun to recognize e-cigarettes, adjust regulatory policies, and promote the legalization and standardization of e-cigarettes in their own countries.
The most obvious action is Malaysia, a Southeast Asian country. E-cigarettes have been regulated as drugs in Malaysia because they contain nicotine. However, in October this year, when submitting the 2022 budget, Malaysian finance minister Tengku zafrul Aziz said that the government planned to impose a consumption tax on e-cigarettes. This is regarded as an important signal for Malaysia to lift the ban on e-cigarettes.
Figure: according to the official website of the 2022 Malaysian government budget, the government will levy a consumption tax on e-cigarettes containing nicotine
Thailand, Egypt and other countries are also changing their attitudes towards e-cigarettes. On October 25, according to the report of cross-border e-commerce remittance in the Middle East, Egypt has abolished the ban on e-cigarettes implemented since 2015. Also in October, Thai politician and Minister of digital economy and society chaiwut thanakamanausorn said he was exploring ways to legalize e e-cigarettes.
What makes these countries abnormal? Let’s first look at the United States, which “gave the green light for e-cigarettes for the first time”.
On October 12, FDA passed the PMTA (premarket tobacco application) audit of three electronic cigarette products for the first time, because “there are data to prove that these three products are more likely to be used by smokers to reduce their risk of tobacco injury”. In other words, after layers of testing, FDA believes that these three e-cigarette products can help smokers reduce harm.
Also confirmed is the auxiliary smoking cessation effect of e-cigarettes. The scientific basis report on tobacco product control: the eighth report of the who research group, which was recently released on the official website of the World Health Organization (who), points out that in some cases, e-cigarettes can help some smokers quit smoking and have a positive impact on public health. The constantly updated authoritative research conclusions have become the scientific basis for the national adjustment of e-cigarette regulatory policies.
In addition, there are voices from the public. According to media reports, the results of a national public opinion survey in Malaysia show that 58% of respondents agree that e-cigarettes can reduce harm, and 51% of respondents said that among all smoking cessation methods, e-cigarettes are the most practical and safe. So far, Malaysia has more than 1 million e-cigarette users.
In fact, countries around the world have seen the great potential of e-cigarettes in reducing smoking rates. The United Kingdom and New Zealand also use e-cigarettes as official smoking cessation tools.
New Zealand, located in Oceania, released a regulatory plan for e-cigarettes as early as 2018 to support smokers to switch to e-cigarettes. Recently, in order to popularize e-cigarettes to the public, the New Zealand health promotion agency has also set up a special channel to popularize the truth of e-cigarettes, which clearly points out that “the harm of e-cigarettes is much smaller than that of smoking” and “e-cigarettes can help some people quit smoking”.
Figure: the New Zealand Ministry of Health said that e-cigarettes could help people quit smoking and contribute to New Zealand’s smoke-free goal by 2025
Data show that in the UK, which was the first to recognize the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in assisting smoking cessation, the national smoking rate has dropped sharply from 21% in 2011 to 15% in 2020. On October 29, the United Kingdom, which tasted the sweetness, set an example again – the electronic
“Included in medical insurance”. The National Health Service (NHS) said it would use e-cigarettes as prescription drugs to help smokers quit smoking. This means that the UK will become the first country in the world to license medical products for e-cigarettes.
With the emergence of more authoritative scientific research conclusions on e-cigarettes, the global e-cigarette regulatory situation is becoming increasingly clear. “E-cigarettes should not be regulated in the same way as cigarettes. E-cigarettes can be regarded as an opportunity for tobacco control to finally realize the ‘new era’ of smoke-free future,” wrote the latest report of the WHO tobacco group.