The Vaping War in Australia and Asia
It may sound ridiculous but vaping is not accepted the world over as a positive move. Even with the huge amount of independent studies all saying that vaping is significantly safer than smoking, there are still governments around the world who don’t offer any support towards it.
There are a number of different reasons why the countries don’t offer support for vaping, mainly financial ones, but when you take into account the health of their citizens surely they should be offering more support behind vaping? Unfortunately, the financial aspects seem to have won the day in some countries.
Mainly residing in the southern hemisphere, these countries have governments who are not just heavily regulating it but in some cases outright banning it. So, which countries have waged war on vaping and vapers, and how have they gone about doing it?
Malaysia are possibly one of the worst offenders for infringing on the rights of both their citizens and tourists who vape. On the 29th of January 2018 police and FARMASI (pharmacy regulators) raided every single independent vape shop in Malaysia. During this time they seized the entire stock of e-liquids that contained nicotine. As well as this they also demanded to be given a list of all the suppliers and distributors that the vape shops had used.
When you take into account that a huge proportion (50%!!!) of the male population in Malaysia smoke this shows that there is a huge disparity between the treatment of tobacco products and vaping products. While there is no cast iron proof why vaping is being treated like this by the Malaysian government all of the signs point to tax income from tobacco products being much higher than vaping so they don’t want to risk losing their primary income.
Malaysia may be targeting the retailers who provide vaping material, but Thailand have taken it one step further. Vaping has been made completely illegal in Thailand. Not in the same way that smoking is illegal indoors in England, but to the point where it is totally criminalised. If you are caught vaping in Thailand then you will be arrested. Once you are arrested then you face a choice between jail time and a huge fine.
This doesn’t just apply to citizens of Thailand either, if you are a tourist you too can be arrested if you are caught vaping. After two vapers from Israel were arrested and fined it even spurred the Israel Foreign Ministry to make a statement relating to vaping in Thailand.
“Enjoy your Thailand holiday, but please leave the electronic cigarettes at home. They’re illegal here, Anyone found breaking this law by using an electronic cigarette – or vaping – in Thailand could be arrested and face jail time, or a fine several times the value of the illegal item(s). This applies both to foreigners and Thais. There have been recent incidents of foreign travelers who were unaware of the ban facing an on-the-spot fine or being arrested.”
The same as Malaysia, Thailand doesn’t have such strict rules against smoking which shows that there have to be deeper financial reasons behind this attack, because it cannot be worrying about the welfare of their citizens otherwise they would actively encourage vaping.
Taiwan and Singapore
While these two countries haven’t yet begun to enforce their anti vaping laws they are in the process of instilling the same laws as Thailand. This means that they plan to make e-cigarettes and all similar products illegal. When you take into account both the large number of smokers there are already in these two countries as well as the significant health benefits to switching to vaping from smoking it shows that they do not have the best interests of their citizens at heart, they just have the best interests of their public coffers.
Not only is it showing a lack of care towards the people who live in these countries but the governments are also showing a level of hypocrisy because they have failed to ban smoking which carries years of independent research proving the dangers that it causes. From a moral standpoint these countries do not have a leg to stand on.
Cigarettes are a big deal in India. A huge proportion of the population of India smoke. So much so that India holds more than 10% of the total smokers in the world. With this information you would think it would make sense for them to encourage vaping as an alternative, in order to help their people live longer more satisfying lives. This is not the case.
Currently as many as eight states in India have made vaping illegal. Once again there is no medical or welfare reason for them to have taken this step, the only logical reason that they can have to have made vaping illegal is that they are worried about taking a hit on the tax income they create from tobacco products. When your country homes over 10% of the world’s smokers then the tax income from tobacco has got to be huge, but is it worth condemning them all to an early death? When you consider that they could bring in as much tax revenue from vaping if they gave it the time to take hold then the answer is unequivocally no.
Australia have one of the most ridiculous laws there is in terms of vaping. Vaping isn’t illegal, but vaping an e-liquid with nicotine in is illegal. This wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that cigarettes, which in case you didn’t know contain nicotine, are completely legal in Australia. This means that you can kill yourself with a cigarette, but you can’t potentially save your life with a vape.
Australia are the worst offenders on this list because they are not a poor country like the others. While the others are undoubtedly doing a bad thing by criminalising vapers, they also have a small excuse for it because they do not have a lot of money and so feel they cannot afford to lose the revenue from cigarettes. Australia do not have that issue. Their choice stems from pig headedness and ignorance. It’s just a shame that the Australian public are the ones who have to suffer.
Hopefully these countries will begin to change their minds over time as more studies show that vaping is not harmful and can in fact help people to quit smoking. Once they have these facts and realise that vaping can create a brand new revenue stream, maybe the health of their citizens will take precedence.