E-Cigarette Markets and Policy Responses in Southeast Asia: A Scoping Review

Document Type : Review Article

Authors

1 Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

2 Research for Impact, Singapore, Singapore

3 Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

4 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

5 Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

6 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore

Abstract

Background
The global e-cigarette market has proliferated and is increasingly dominated by transnational tobacco companies. While Southeast Asian countries have received relatively little attention in e-cigarette research, the region represents an area of potentially untapped growth for the industry. We review the e-cigarette situation in Southeast Asia in terms of the e-cigarette markets, advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes, reported health impacts of e-cigarette use, and policy responses in the region.
 
Methods 
We examined e-cigarette market data from the Euromonitor Global Market Information Database (GMID) Passport database, searched in the academic literature, grey literature and news archives for any reports or studies of e-cigarette related diseases or injuries, e-cigarette marketing, and e-cigarette policy responses in Southeast Asian countries, and browsed the websites of online e-cigarette retailers catering to the region’s active e-cigarette markets.
 
Results
In 2019, e-cigarettes were sold in six Southeast Asian markets with a total market value of $595 million, projected to grow to $766 million by 2023. E-commerce is a significant and growing sales channel in the region, with most of the popular or featured brands in online shops originating from China. Southeast Asian youth are targeted with a wide variety of flavours, trendy designs and point of sale promotions, and several e-cigarette related injuries and diseases have been reported in the region. Policy responses vary considerably between countries, ranging from strict bans to no or partial regulations.
 
Conclusion
Although Southeast Asia’s e-cigarette market is relatively nascent, this is likely to change if transnationals invest more heavily in the region. Populous countries with weak e-cigarette regulations, notably Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, are desirable targets for the transnationals. Regulatory action is needed to prevent e-cigarette use from becoming entrenched into these societies, especially among young people.

Keywords


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