Foreign Exemptions in Tobacco, Alcohol, and Gambling Regulations: A Topographic Study of East and Southeast Asia

Jia Wei Teo, University of Pennsylvania


This paper examines country regulations against three “sins” that cause personal and social harm – tobacco, alcohol, and gambling. A generalized literature review shows the levels of personal and social harm resulted from each sin, and whether policies were implemented with foreign exemption (whether foreigners were exempted from regulations that apply to nationals). Data is compiled of fourteen countries in East and Southeast Asia (spanning seventeen geographic jurisdictions (“jurisdictions”) due to Macau and Hong Kong’s status as special administrative jurisdictions of China and Taiwan’s status as a state under Chinese jurisdiction), resulting in a top-down, topographical study. Results show that for the seventeen geographies studied, there are no foreign exemptions in alcohol and tobacco regulations. Alcohol consumption legality can be perfectly predicted by the major religion of the region – if the region is majority Muslim, alcohol will not be legal and vice versa (tight regulation). For gambling, a Muslim-majority country would limit casino access to locals, but foreign exemptions are not exclusively implemented by Muslim-majority countries (semi-tight regulation). For tobacco, given that it is fully legal for all geographies, there are no grounds for foreign exemption (loose regulation).


Date Posted: 19 May 2020