MVA: Plain packaging, banning display of vape products against tobacco harm reduction approach

ANY proposal to impose plain packaging on vape products and ban the display of vape products goes against the tobacco harm reduction approach and the government must take a leaf out of Sweden’s book to achieve a smoke-free future, said a local vape consumer advocacy group.

Malaysian Vapers Alliance (MVA), in lauding Sweden’s success in tobacco control through the implementation of progressive and evidence-based harm reduction strategies, noted that the approach has led to a remarkable 55% decline in smoking rates over the last decade, thus positioning Sweden on the brink of becoming the world’s first smoke-free nation.

It said central to Sweden’s success is its encouragement of smokers to transition to less harmful alternatives.

“Sweden’s experience demonstrates the efficacy of harm reduction strategies in reducing smoking prevalence and improving public health outcomes,” said MVA president Khairil Azizi Khairuddin in a statement on Thursday (May 2).

Khairil Azizi Khairuddin

“Malaysia should take inspiration from Sweden and adopt similar measures to accelerate our progress towards a smoke-free future.”

Khairil said putting plain packaging on vape and banning the display of vape products in shops only serves to hinder tobacco harm reduction efforts.

“These measures should not be imposed on vape products as it only sends the wrong message that vape products are the same as cigarettes and tobacco products,” he added.

“Apart from potentially driving Malaysian vapers who mainly are ex-smokers back to smoking cigarettes, it is going to pose challenges for consumers to differentiate products in the market especially when all products are packaged in the same colour and hidden from sight.

“Malaysia must prioritise evidence-based policies that support harm reduction and empower smokers to make informed choices.”

Based on publicly available data, smoking rates in Malaysia is 3.1 times higher than Sweden. Further, smoking-related deaths in Malaysia are 67% higher than in Sweden.

“These figures underscore the importance of tobacco harm reduction strategies by encouraging smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives,” Khairil stressed.

“This success story proves that with the right policies in place, nations can dramatically improve public health outcomes.

“MVA calls on policymakers to consider the Swedish example as a blueprint for reducing smoking rates and improving public health.

“By supporting the availability and accessibility of less harmful nicotine alternatives, the government can take a significant step towards achieving a smoke-free future.” – May 2, 2024

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