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Apr 2, 2024, 5:15pm EDT
Southeast Asia
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Singapore’s vaping ban falls short amid global youth tobacco crisis

Insights from the South China Morning Post, Scientific Reports, and Tobacco Induced Diseases

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The News

Vaping offenses in Singapore increased nearly 60% between 2022 and 2023, according to the country’s Ministry of Health, despite a widespread ban — showing the uphill battle lawmakers face globally in persuading young people to ditch tobacco products.

Singapore reported about 7,900 incidences of the purchase, use, or possession of vapes in 2023, compared with about 5,000 in 2022, the Straits Times reported — despite laws that ban vape products for all consumers, regardless of age.

It comes as governments across the world debate new measures to ban or restrict e-cigarettes, with fears the products are getting minors addicted to nicotine and leading to larger public health consequences.

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Singapore vape laws among the strictest in the world

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Source:  
South China Morning Post

Singapore has built a reputation as having some of the world’s strictest drug penalties, and its crackdown on vaping is extensive. Vape users can be fined up to $1,490, and travelers who do not surrender their e-cigarettes upon arrival in Singapore face potential jail time, according to the South China Morning Post. Students caught with vapes are required to attend addiction support programs, while male students face being caned. Police are also ramping up random checks for vapes at public hotspots such as shopping centers, parks, and bars to stop vapes from “taking hold in our society,” the country’s Ministry of Health said in December.

Youth smoking and vaping bans appear to work, but advertising still reaches teens

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Sources:  
Scientific Reports, CDC, The BBC, The Independent, Tobacco Induced Diseases

Preliminary data suggests that e-cigarette bans can reduce their use among minors. Tobacco use among high schoolers in the U.S. declined more than four percentage points between 2022 and 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, which appears to coincide with a tightening of state and local tobacco control laws, although no direct link has yet been reported. Across the globe, governments are implementing bans: the U.K. is working on banning the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2009, and New Zealand is working on banning disposable vapes and the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. But the visibility of tobacco products has yet to recede: an October study from the journal Tobacco Induced Diseases found that 85% of teens in China, Australia, the U.K., and India are still heavily exposed to vape advertisements.

Experts divided on pros and cons of tobacco-free nicotine products

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Sources:  
The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press

Zyn — a brand of flavored, tobacco-free nicotine pouches — has seen a surge in popularity in the U.S. this year, largely driven by its use and promotion among social media influencers, according to The Wall Street Journal. The product is now a sticking point in the country’s larger culture wars: some Democrats are dueling with Republicans by proposing regulations that would restrict the sale and advertisement of nicotine pouches, even those that are tobacco-free, in an effort to reduce use among youth. While many health experts have welcomed efforts to crack down on Zyn, others say that the restrictions — including those on vapes — target products that are useful for helping people quit cigarettes, the Associated Press reported. “We’ve been all about abstinence, instead of embracing products that can reduce harm,” one addiction specialist said.

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