Tobacco is the leading cause of death and diseases in the world. There are more forceful and innovative interventions that enlightened governments can adopt.
New Zealand just set a model for the world with its game-changing tobacco control plan, moving beyond tobacco control towards a tobacco-free future.
New Zealand will first limit the number of stores that can sell cigarettes from 2024. It will then lower the level of nicotine in cigarettes from 2025. Finally, the country will usher in a "tobacco-free generation" from 2027.
Tobacco-free generation laws ban the sale of tobacco to those born after a specific year and prevent future generations from ever starting to smoke, while not affecting existing smokers.
The tobacco-free generation proposal was made in Singapore as early as 2010, but is now set to be adopted by a foreign country instead. The cities of Balanga in the Philippines and Brookline in the United States also have laws supporting a tobacco-free generation.
Former MP Lee Bee Wah has said that she believes such a generational approach could work.
Laws like Singapore's that set a minimum age for using tobacco products make smoking seem like something that is acceptable for people of a certain age, when in reality, it is harmful for everyone. Some young people may even see smoking as an act that marks a person's coming of age, and that is even worse.
When the tobacco-free generation proposal was brought up a few years ago, the authorities said it would be easy to circumvent and challenging to enforce.
But I do not think this is a good justification as the minimum legal age can be circumvented in similar ways.
Enforcement could also be funded by hiking the excise duty on tobacco products and tobacco retail licence fees.