Maldives should ban the sale of tobacco to all those born from 2007 onwards? Smoke free generations.

Smoke free generation is a very interesting concept where countries are looking at future generations that are smoke free. Efforts to protect future generations from the harmful effects of tobacco, people born from a certain year will not be able to buy tobacco.

In the year 2012, the Tasmanian legislature passed a motion calling to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone born after the year 2000. This measure was proposed by an Independent MP, Ivan Dean who was a former police officer and Mayor. Mr Dean said that the ban would prevent young people “from buying a product that they can’t already buy” and  “this would mean that we would have a generation of people not exposed to tobacco products.”

If this becomes law, those people who turn 18 in 2018 will not be able to buy tobacco thus reducing the initiation of tobacco use. This generation will the lead to better health status without the harmful effects of tobacco. It is believed that this idea was initiated from Singapore, and Singapore and Finland were also considering such laws.

In 2014, Tim Crocker-Buque, a specialist registrar in public health medicine, passed a motion to the British Medical Association, to completely ban the sale of cigarettes to all people born after year 2000. According to him

The 21st-century generation don’t need to suffer the hundreds of millions of deaths that the 20th-century generation did.

About 80 per cent of people start smoking in their teenage years and they end up addicted usually for the rest of their lives.  Banning sales of cigarettes for people born after a certain year means we don’t penalize people who are already smokers which might be very difficult morally and ethically.

This motion was passed by the BMA and is now being further lobbied with the Department of Health to be bold in publishing a new tobacco control strategy.

And more recently, Russia has emerged as a country proposing this action. Defending the policy submitted by the Ministry of Health, a member of the Russian parliament’s health committee, Mr Nikolai Gerasimenko said that

This goal is absolutely ideologically correct

Youth tobacco consumption in Maldives can be considered significant as well. The Demographic Health Survey conducted in 2009 showed that 19.8% of never-married males in the 15-19 years age group were smokers and in the age group of 20-24, 42% of never-married males were smokers. According to the survey the prevalence for females were not presented because less than 25% of the females in this age group reported themselves as smokers. I have replicated the table (15.10 Cigarette smoking) from the published survey report easy reference.

The Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 2011 showed that 11.2% of students aged 13 to 15 were tobacco users of which 7.9% were using some form of smoked tobacco.

In my personal opinion, the above rates would be higher at present, at least from the anecdotal evidence that is very apparent. A survey is required to get the real extent of the problem.

Going back to the idea of discussion, the smoke free generation, I believe with all the current tobacco control measures struggling to be addressed, implemented and or enforced, it is time we follow footsteps of the champions in tobacco control. With youth smoking as high as 42% in some age groups, it is important we address the matter before it starts. A smoke free generation should be the next step we push to take. We should start to lobby and be courages enough to push such a motion through the policy and law making bodies for the sake of our children.

My view on proposing 2007 for the cut off year is simple. This year the children born in 2007 will turn 10. In three years time they will start to experiment with smoking and other tobacco as evident from the Maldives statistics above. And this cohort of children will turn the legal adult age of 18 in 2025. If this can be implemented successfully, Maldives can become the champion of global tobacco control by, to mention a few,

  • Saving lives
  • Increasing life expectancy
  • Improving national productivity and
  • Reducing the national financial burden for non-communicable diseases

Well, we can make our children, and those who follow, tobacco free generations.

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One Comment on "Maldives should ban the sale of tobacco to all those born from 2007 onwards? Smoke free generations."

  1. Anonymous
    02/06/2017 at 09:46 Permalink

    Very good initiative Afaal. Its never too late to devise innovative approaches to deal with this social menance. Yes we dont want the future generations to be a sick one. Sadly the tobacco lobby is preying on the folly of youth and youth dont even know that this trick is played on them. Keep up the good work. We always need believers in the seemingly impossible. I liked your show on the Day.

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