What has the world done to move towards a “smoke-free generation” in 2023?

At the end of 2023, the United Kingdom, the second largest e-cigarette market, took action: President Sunak “reported” to King Charles for the first time on November 7, announcing the government’s plan to initiate historic new laws that would ban the legal sale of tobacco in the United Kingdom to children under 14. It was officially announced to the public that “smoke-free generations may be brought to the table in the UK.”


In fact, from October 12, the British government created the “smoke-free Generation” and “Control Youth use of vapes” (tacklingyouthvaping) “consultation cases began to collect opinions from the public, and lasted for 8 weeks until December 6. Although the consultation case, “electronic cigarettes” (Vape) are not included in the scope of “smoke-free”, more stringent management, including design, packaging, taste and so on. ; But as an electronic cigarette butt market, this move is still having an impact in the industry.


The basics of a “smoke-free generation” are clear. At present, most countries’ age controls on tobacco tar products, such as cigarettes, link the legal age of purchase to the age of majority. This means that every year someone gradually becomes a “potential legitimate customer”;


The idea of a “smoke-free generation” is to set a date by which older consumers that year and beyond will also legally buy cigarettes. If the ban goes into effect, the direct result is that the tobacco industry’s “potential legal consumers” will no longer experience steady annual growth, the market will unilaterally continue to shrink, and theoretically will eventually usher in a day of zero consumption.


In addition to the conceptual impact, there will be no immediate impact before the set number of years, giving the market time to prepare for adjustment, but ultimately leading to a “clean” and “perfect” outcome in the sense of public health – this control concept has its ingenious aspects, and has been considered and imitated by major countries since its introduction. But in practice, more unexpected problems have surfaced.


How will policy shape markets and how will markets speak to policy? Looking back at this year, 2FIRSTS has compiled a chronological list of countries’ actions on a smoke-free generation.


The content of the proposals on “smoke-free generation” in 2023

On April 15, 2023, Yuri Gradunov, a city councilor in St. Petersburg, Russia, proposed a bill to “go smoke-free for generations.” The proposed measures include banning the sale of goods containing smoke tar to people born after January 1, 2011, and their purchase and consumption of these products. At the same time, it is recommended that the federal government develop and implement a phased plan to completely reduce the production of tobacco products and smoky tar products, and reduce the equipment used for their consumption and shisha. The St. Petersburg City Council was deliberated;


On October 12, 2023, after President Sunak delivered the King’s Speech, the government launched an 8-week public consultation on “Creating a smoke-free generation and controlling youth e-cigarette use” (2FIRSTS conducted a questionnaire survey among Chinese readers on the issues involved in the public consultation);


On November 6, 2023, Brookline, Massachusetts, United States, BrooklineSun Oil Co. (BrooklineSun Oil Co.) station owners filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the “generational ban” passed in 2020 but not yet implemented;


On November 24, 2023, New Zealand’s new three-party government said it would repeal the Generations Smoke-Free amendment introduced by previous Labour-led governments by March 2024. The original measures included banning the sale of cigarettes to people born after January 1, 2009, limiting the amount of nicotine in tobacco products, and reducing tobacco retailers by more than 90 percent.


On December 14, 2023, the Upper House of Parliament passed the Public Health Control of Smoking Products Bill 2023, which removed the “generations Smoke-free” clause from Malaysia. The initial measures included a ban on the sale of cigarette products and tobacco, as well as smoking by individuals born after January 1, 2007.


Ongoing challenges and controversies

The concept of “generation smoke-free” originated in Singapore in 2010, was first presented to the world at the World Conference on Tobacco Control held in Suntec City in 2012, and was gradually tested and discussed by European academics over the next decade. Based on the anxiety of teenagers and children, the academic community proposed this policy, that is, gradually raising the minimum age for the legal purchase of cigarettes, and eventually achieving a permanent smoking ban policy, continuously and long-term reducing the smoking rate, further avoiding young people’s smoking addiction, and create favorable conditions for the final cigarette.


Its original intention and concept are clear: the practice is intuitive, seems progressively feasible, and eventually reaches the “absolute” and “efficient” results. Since its introduction, the idea has attracted the attention of many countries. New Zealand became the first country to pass a similar bill in 2022, and it is scheduled to come into force in January 2024.


The year is 2023. This year, countries as a whole are lagging in this direction. Stalemate and tug are the manifestation of the results of the game played by various stakeholders; At the same time, in the process of promotion, more problems that were not previously considered have been exposed over time.


In recent years, Massachusetts’ performance on bans has become a backroom example: The 2021 report shows that sales of taxable cigarette goods in the state did decline after Massachusetts implemented a ban on flavored cigarette and e-cigarette brands, but appeared to shift only to other states, notably New Hampshire and Rhode Island. From a larger perspective, the application proportion of smoke tar has not been reduced, but it has thrown away the “hot potato” and let people “give up market share”. Critics argue that if stricter “generational bans” are implemented, tobacco sales are more likely to move to other regions than to curb cigarette consumption.


Malaysia’s Health Minister, Dr. Dzukifi Ahmad, said the “generations smoke-free” rule had an unfair and discriminatory legal status, which meant that those born before January 1, 2007, and those born after January 1, 2007, were treated differently.


New Zealand OTT roya atomization community encourages team (AotearoaVapersCommunityAdvocacy) advice from generation to generation ban on tobacco might encourage the existing black market, and inadvertently make smoking more attractive to the young.


The game between taxation and free choice

Taxes, markets, and free choice for adult citizens – the “generational smoke-free” ban, to achieve better public health and well-being, touches every aspect of society.


Before this year, a ban on repeating the idea had begun to appear. In 2022, many Hong Kong government advisers proposed ideas similar to “generations of smoke-free”, but the proposal was shelved before it was formed; For Singapore, which first proposed the idea, this did not get a basic boost. Earlier this year, the Health Ministry said only in response to inquiries from two members of Parliament that it was reviewing the proposal. These countries and regions are still slowly and painstakingly implementing the process from proposal to implementation.


But the reality is undeniable. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), more than 8% of New Zealanders over the age of 15 regularly use e-cigarettes, second only to Estonia, according to the latest data from December 2023. Among them, the proportion of youth use is higher, and the use of electronic cigarettes among young people in New Zealand is much higher than that in the UK and Australia. This figure does explain the motivation behind New Zealand’s lead under Labour. Are there more ways to protect the health and safety of young people and the wider public than a “smoking ban for generations”?


2024 is just around the corner. Will a smoke-free generation succeed in the UK? Which countries will follow? What new measures do they include? What new control ideas will be introduced to limit cigarette consumption in the next generation?