Session Summaries

Panel Discussion 1: THE SEARCH FOR LESS HARMFUL ALTERNATIVES _ CONSUMERS_ PERSPECTIVE

  • An e-cigarette user who quit smoking opened the panel session. He admitted he had tried various efforts to quit smoking but none worked except for vaping. He believes that millions of Indonesian smokers deserve to be more educated on the health benefits of alternative products.
  • Asa Saligupta (ECST, Thailand)stated that e cigarettes is illegal in Thailand (sales, import, and distribution) but this does not stop 400,000 users from vaping. He believes that the Thai government is overly paranoid about e-cigarettes even though there is no health problem caused by the product.
  • Tom Pinlac (Vapers, Philippines)described the Philippines_ market as being dominated by liquid nicotine industry that make about US$1000 to US$2000 per month. Formulating the right regulation is crucial and this should be based on scientific research and actual market condition. In order to be fair, just like conventional cigarettes, Vape or e-cigarettes should also have a legal framework. This sentiment is shared by the Malaysian and Indonesian consumer representatives. 
  • Nilesh Jain (Ivape.in, India)explained that India has a high smoking population and there needs to be more drive in the market for alternative tobacco products to replace smoking. Policies to encourage less harmful tobacco products are needed. 

Panel Discussion 2: TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION LANDSCAPE: GLOBAL AND ASIAN POLICY PERSPECTIVE

  • Moderator -Ardini (IAKMI, Indonesia)stated that majority of countries in the world have a shared objective to be free of cigarette smoke by 2020. Various policy efforts need to be conducted to achieve this and one of them is through tobacco harm reduction approach. Governments need to regulate based on evidence instead of simply banning or restricting the product.
  • Donald Low (LKYSPP _ NUS, Singapore)stated that policy formulation is often associated with political scenario, but when it comes to innovation like alternative tobacco products, this should not be the case. There is a real market demand for less harmful tobacco products and therefore, the regulation must keep up with it, instead of simply banning. Ignoring the trend will cause disadvantage to the country and robbing society on the potential benefit to public health.
  • Nobuhiko Harada (Nishimura & Asahi Law Firm, Japan)explained that in Japan, the government regulates all aspect of the tobacco business, including manufacturing, import and domestic sales, advertising and promotion, as well as the health warning. Specifically on harm reduction, the Ministry of Health, Manpower, and Welfare has introduced the harm reduction act to improve public health and ban smoking inside homes. Even the Governor of Tokyo has introduced a smoking prohibition in all public facilities, be it indoor or outdoor. Such regulations make alternative tobacco products such as heat not burn more popular in Japan and its consumers are growing significantly.
  • Jeannie Cameron (JCIC, Australia)stated that harm reduction is an important effort of tobacco control that can protect future generation for the harm of smoking. New Zealand has recently u- turned on its position by allowing the sales of e. cigarettes in the country.
  • The moderator concluded that in Indonesia, electronic cigarettes have to be regulated in order to reduce conventional cigarette consumption. 

Panel Discussion III: VALIDATING THE SCIENCE BEHIND TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION

  • Andrew Da Roza (Addiction Psycho-Therapist, Singapore)recognized that Singapore_s strict anti-tobacco policies would take time to produce significant impact. Therefore, alternative tobacco products such as e cigarette and heat not burn can offer a real solution. As an addiction therapist, he understood that cigarette addiction affect the psychological condition of a person. He/she cannot quit immediately, hence the need for a transitory tool, which can be met by alternative tobacco products. 
  • Jay Jazul & Ron Sison (University of St. Thomas, Philippines)- policy makers need to encourage smokers to change the way they consume tobacco away from combustion, such as through liquid nicotine with e-cigarette or nicotine patch. This will benefit not only the smokers but also the people around them.
  • Sharkit Rimpanit (Saint Mary Hospital, Thailand)viewed cigarette consumption as a lifestyle; therefore restricting its consumption is not a simple solution. If e-cigarette can be promoted and communicated well, there is an opportunity to save millions of smokers_ lives. 
  • Amaliya (Padjajaran University, Indonesia)stated that innovative tobacco alternative product could fail due to pressure from conventional cigarette and unattractive campaign. Therefore, there must be a comprehensive support to promote this product considering the potential health benefit.
  • Rajesh Sharan (North-Eastern Hill University _ India)stated that India face similar issue with Indonesia in terms of its high smoking population so then the question is how can technology be a solution to this issue. Any assistance for smokers to quit or reduced the harm of smoking is very much needed, and this is supported by the WHO under their alternative nicotine product directives. E-cigarette or vaping can help smokers quit and therefore should be available as an alternative product.