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Denmark, Britain, Malaysia may follow New Zealand in youth smoking ban

Denmark and the United Kingdom may follow in the footsteps of New Zealand by banning smoking by people born after a certain year, such as 2008. New Zealand announced in December that it would outlaw cigarettes for future generations in an effort to phase out smoking, and Malaysia followed suit in January.

The stories below highlight developments in the youth smoking ban trend in the four countries.


Denmark proposes ban on selling cigarettes to people born after 2010

Denmark has unveiled plans to ban the sale of cigarettes and nicotine products to any citizens born after 2010, reported AFP on 15 March.

The move aims to prevent the next generation of Danes from touching any form of tobacco, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke told a press conference.

“If necessary, we are ready to ban sales to this generation [born in 2010] by gradually raising the purchase age limit,” Heunicke said.

Under current rules, Danish citizens under the age of 18 are banned from buying tobacco or smoking electronic cigarettes. But around 31% of people aged between 15 and 29 still smoke, Heunicke said.

The Health Minister added that smoking is the leading cause of cancer in the Nordic country, causing 13,600 deaths a year.

According to a survey commissioned by the Danish Cancer Association, 64% of respondents are in favour of the plan to ban the sale of cigarettes to those born after 2010. Among 18-34-year-olds, 67% of those surveyed were in favour.

In Denmark, the Social Democrat government also intends to tackle alcohol consumption among young people. Authorities plan to raise the age limit for the purchase of alcoholic beverages from 16 to 18 for all drinks containing less than 16.5% alcohol.


Under-25s could be banned from buying cigarettes under government plans

A new anti-smoking tsar leading an independent review on how to stop Britons smoking said he is considering recommending a ban similar to one already introduced in New Zealand, wrote Martin Bagot for The Mirror on 15 March.

Lawmakers there have banned cigarettes for future generations in a bid to eventually phase out smoking. Anyone born after 2008 will not be able to buy cigarettes or tobacco products in their lifetime.

Javed Khan, the former CEO of children’s charity Barnardo’s, is leading the independent review and will report on his suggestions to Health Secretary Sajid Javid next month.

Khan said: “We are thinking seriously about the age of sale.

There are still six million smokers in England, which has a target to be smoke-free by 2030. The richest are expected to hit that in 2025, but the poorest will not until the mid-2040s.

Tobacco is the single largest cause of preventable death and 64,000 people died from conditions related to smoking in 2019.

Khan said a culture of thinking the “job is done” had led to some possible solutions being ignored. His review is also looking at whether campaigns on social media platforms used by young people would be effective.

“Just look at the COVID experience, mass marketing has a big effect, it really works,” he said. “The government went hell for leather, it made an enormous difference in vaccination rates. So why not do something like that again, if we really want to save people’s lives.”

See link below to the full story in The Mirror.


New Zealand to ban cigarettes for future generations

New Zealand will ban the sale of tobacco to its next generation, in a bid to eventually phase out smoking, reported the BBC on 9 December 2021.

Anyone born after 2008 will not be able to buy cigarettes or tobacco products in their lifetime, under a law expected to be enacted next year.

“We want to make sure young people never start smoking,” said Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verall.

The move is part of a sweeping crackdown on smoking announced by New Zealand's Health Ministry.

Doctors and other health experts in the country have welcomed the ‘world-leading’ reforms, which will reduce access to tobacco and restrict nicotine levels in cigarettes.

“It will help people quit or switch to less harmful products, and make it much less likely that young people get addicted to nicotine,” said Professor Janet Hook from the University of Otago.

The crackdown met with mixed reactions.

New Zealand is determined to achieve a national goal of reducing its national smoking rate to 5% by 2025, with the aim of eventually eliminating it altogether.

At the moment, 13% of adults smoke, with the rate much higher among the indigenous Maori population, where it soars to almost a third. Maori also suffer a higher rate of disease and death.

The Health Ministry says smoking causes one in four cancers and remains the leading cause of preventable death for New Zealand’s five million-strong population. The industry has been the target of legislators for more than a decade now.

As part of the crackdown, the government also introduced major tobacco controls, including significantly restricting where cigarettes can be sold to remove them from supermarkets and corner stores.

The number of shops authorised to sell cigarettes will be drastically reduced to under 500 from about 8,000 now, officials say.

In recent years, vaping has become far more popular among younger generations than cigarettes. Health authorities have warned that vaping is not harmless, but in 2017 the country adopted vaping as a pathway to help smokers quit tobacco.

See link below to the full BBC story.


Malaysia proposes to ban sale of smoking products to people born after 2005

The Health Ministry in Malaysia is planning to ban smoking products for people born after 2005, said Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, reports The Star/Asia News Network.

Speaking at the 150th session of the executive board meeting of the World Health Organisation, held in Geneva on 26 January 2022, Khairy said that he hoped the legislation would be passed this year.

“This is by making it illegal for the sale of tobacco and other smoking products to anyone born after 2005,” he said, according to the story published in The Straits Times on 28 January.

He added that this would have a significant impact on the control and prevention of non-communicable diseases.

Previously, Khairy said that he would table a new Tobacco and Smoking Control Act in the upcoming Parliament to regulate e-cigarettes and vape products alongside enforcing a ‘Generation End-Game’ for smoking in the long run.

See link below to the full The Star/Asia News Network story.


AFP story – Denmark proposes ban on selling cigarettes to people born after 2010 (Open access)


The Mirror story – Under-25s could be banned from buying cigarettes under Government plans (Open access)


BBC story – New Zealand to ban cigarettes for future generations (Open access)


The Straits Times story – Malaysia proposing to ban sale of smoking products to those born after 2005 (Open access)


See also from the MedicalBrief archives


Ban on cigarette sales fails to prevent smoking among young people


Ban on flavoured vaping may have led teens to cigarettes — Yale study


Is the FDA's cigarette ban just smoke and menthols? – MedPage Today op-ed


Flavoured cigarette ban significantly reduced youth smoking – Study




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