Smoke without fire – Thailand’s vaping law

Unnecessary excuse for police to steal from tourists

While e-cigarettes are used around the world as a way of helping people quit smoking, travellers must be aware that Thailand’s vaping law means these devices are illegal in the kingdom.

Whatever the motivations for the ban were in the first place, it’s now just another way for Thai police to fleece visitors.

Vaping remains illegal under Thailand’s vaping law

Vaping came into the spotlight when Huai Kwang Police Officers extorted 27,000 baht from a Taiwanese actress for carrying an illegal e-cigarette last month. Then, Pattaya Police fined a group of Chinese tourists 30,000 baht of an initial 60,000 baht fine for possessing e-cigarettes in Pattaya.

Asa Saligupta of End Cigarette Smoke Thailand said…

“We remain confident that Thailand’s parliament will legalise and regulate vaping once the General Election has been held. The issue is simply too big to ignore and the science too compelling.”

Ends Cigarette Smoke Thailand (ECST) is a purchaser coalition working to legalise e-cigarettes in Thailand. ECST says smoking kills about 50,000 Thai people every year.

There is no evidence of a direct connection between ECST and the tobacco industry, but ECST works closely with other organisations that have industry connections, such as the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations. The network receives funding from the cryptically named Foundation for a Smoke-Free World. The foundation is, in turn, funded by Philip Morris International, that bastion of pulmonary health.

Asa said…

“The authorities seem keen to remind visiting tourists that vaping remains illegal in the kingdom. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be that way. We continue to make good progress behind the scenes.”

Does Thailand’s vaping law mean safer smoking?

Asa claims to know exactly what needs to be done to Thailand’s vaping law to address the kingdom’s smoking epidemic. He said…

“Draft vaping legislation awaits Thailand’s parliament to debate and ratify. Realistically though, the General Election will take precedence.

“I remain fully confident that safer nicotine products will be regulated in Thailand. Regulation will give consumers better protection, encourage more smokers to quit deadly cigarettes, and ensure we have much better control over youth vaping with a strict purchase age.”

Smoke safely, smoke legally

It’s a similar argument to the one espoused by the Thai Tobacco Trade Association. The association claims that only legal tobacco, sold by the usual Big Tobacco suspects, can save us from the kinds of deaths previously associated with their products, but now mostly caused by poor taxation regimes.

According to the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Advocates (CAPHRA), the likes of insurance companies like ThaiHealth have the ear of the prime-ministerial aspirant and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. Asa said…

“If we want to substantially reduce smoking-related illnesses and premature deaths, we must lift Thailand’s harsh ban and penalties on vape products. It’s simply not working. As many countries have proven, it’s time to stop listening to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) anti-vape campaign.

“Any claim that driving vaping underground will protect the youth is absolute rubbish. The way to protect young people is to introduce strict regulations to kill off a lot of the black market, deliver a minimum purchase age, and introduce product safety standards. That’s how you protect the youth.”

Thailand’s vaping law and the Big Tobacco playbook

For decades, tobacco companies have secretly created, funded and orchestrated independent-sounding front groups to undermine proven public health policies around the world. From casting doubts on the health harms of tobacco use to lobbying governments to roll back measures designed to drive down rates of tobacco use, front groups like the World Vapers’ Alliance have long been the foundation of Big Tobacco’s playbook.

ECST is a member of CAPHRA, a regional alliance of consumer tobacco harm reduction advocacy organisations. Its mission is to represent vapers and to advocate for access to products they claim to reduce harm from tobacco use.

Smoke without fire - Thailand's vaping law | News by Thaiger

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.