Malaysia is looking to become a smoke-free nation by phasing out the sale of tobacco products to future generations.
Malaysia’s Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin told officials at a World Health Organization (WHO) meeting this week that the country hopes to pass legalization this year that will ban the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to all citizens born after 2005.
Malaysian media reports that the law will also prohibit the use of vapes, e-cigarettes, and heated tobacco products.
This means that Malaysians who are currently 17 years old or younger will not be able to legally buy tobacco, vape, or e-cigarettes in their lifetime.
“Malaysia feels this will have a significant impact in preventing and controlling NCDs [non-communicable diseases],” Jamaluddin added.
Malaysia isn’t the only country eyeing up this type of tobacco phase-out. In December last year, New Zealand announced plans to prohibit the sale of tobacco to all citizens born after 2008 with the view of creating a smoke-free nation by 2025. Russia has also flirted with the idea in recent years, but it’s unclear where this proposal stands now.
However, not everyone is totally on board with these phase-out tobacco bans. When New Zealand’s smoke-free plan was unveiled, some critics argued that it could foster a tobacco black market. They claimed that the plans would only prove successful if action is taken on the illicit trade of tobacco products, which governments currently aren’t focused on.
Smoking, if you haven't heard already, is not good for you. The WHO estimates that one billion people may die of tobacco-related causes during the 21st century, with smoking killing more than 8 million people each year through both direct and indirect use.
Smoking is particularly a concern for low- and middle-income countries, where 80 percent of the world's 1.3 billion tobacco users now live.