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E-cig campaigners respond to story of a Bangkok man being arrested for selling e-cigarettes

Thaiger

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E-cig campaigners respond to story of a Bangkok man being arrested for selling e-cigarettes | Thaiger

Letter to the Editor, published in full.

“I’ve seen the news article posted in your website yesterday…

Bangkok man arrested for selling e-cigarettes, vaping fluid

…talking about a man who got arrested for selling e-cigarettes. This is a persisting problem caused by consumer demand. smokers and users are aware that the products are less harmful thus they stop smoking and change to e-cigarettes. However, the products are banned – leaving them no choice but to search for illegal products. The government should accept the truth and reconsider the ban. And that is what our group, ECST, have requested for.

ECST is an e-cig consumer coalition formed by 12 e-cig influencers in Thailand in 2016. All of the founders are either youtubers or administrators of popular fan pages on Facebook with more than 10,000 followers each.

Last week, ECST led by myself, Asa Saligupta, met with the Ombudsman to discuss the inappropriate process of e-cigarettes prohibition in Thailand. The meeting also joined by representatives from MOPH, MOC, ThaiHealth. Results from the meeting are positive and will benefit the users and smokers in Thailand.

I am sharing below a press release talking about the discussion with the ombudsman and next steps proposed during the meeting for your consideration please. I am sure this is good news smokers and users in Thailand want to hear.

IMAGE LINK: https://pixabay.com/photos/e-cigarette-vaping-blu-cigs-blu-1301670/

LIK TO: https://ecigarettereviewed.com/blog/

The Ombudsman advises government agencies to listen to the voices of its citizens concerning e-cigs prohibition

E-cigarette user group reveals that the Office of the Ombudsman suggested for the relevant government agencies to listen to the public’s voice impartially, and to listen to reasons from all parties and from various dimensions in the case of complaints regarding the unfair ban on e-cigarettes.

On August 17, Mr. Asa Saligupta and Mr. Maris Karanyawat, representatives of the End Cigarette Smoke Thailand (ECST) and the admin of the Facebook page “What is e-cigarette”, attended the meeting at the Office of the Ombudsman regarding the consideration on the complaints about the ban on sales and import of e-cigarettes. Relevant agencies such as Department of Foreign Trade, Office of the Consumer Protection Board, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health, and the Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Center (TRC) also attended the meeting. In which previously, the Ministry of Commerce had confirmed the resolution to keep the ban on e-cigarettes, citing TRC’s report earlier this year amid doubts among people affected by the ban.

“The current ban on e-cigarettes is a violation of the people’s right to access safer alternative products and accurate information about e-cigarettes. This is considered to be an unfair practice of deliberately refraining from performing the duty of inspecting information presented from all sides. We therefore, have requested justice from the Office of the Ombudsman to provide fairness to e-cigarette users in the country.”

“We estimates that there are currently over 500,000 e-cigarette users nationwide, plus 11 million smokers that are looking for a less harmful alternative to replace smoking. We are glad that the Ombudsman remains an institution that the people in suffering can depend on in finding a just and transparent solution to the problem. Hence, the most important key is the people’s participation and listening to the opinions of the public, especially e-cigarette users, which we are considered to be directly impacted by the ban. ” said Mr. Asa, representative of ECST.

“Findings from various reliable agencies such as the UK, the US, and many other European countries concluded that e-cigarettes generate less harmful chemicals. We have tried to bring this information to both the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Public Health, but the presented information has never been considered to make amendments on the ban.

Previously, the committee of the Ministry of Commerce has assigned the TRC to conduct study on e-cigarettes, but the result of the studies instead confirms that the ban is appropriate without taking into account the data from the opposing sides. Additionally, it also obstructs the participation of people who have different points of view, which is against the intention of the legislation and the study of the achievement of the law. The ban has been in place for 5 years, both the country and the people have not benefited at all”.

Mr. Maris, another representative from ECST, added that “Thailand’s e-cigarette ban goes against foreign guidelines that focuses on the importance of research and scientific approaches. For example, Hong Kong and New Zealand that has recently considered control regulations on alternative products, including e-cigarettes. In which there was an open public hearing to listen to opinions from the people as well as taking into consideration results from scientific studies that include information on the advantages and disadvantages, impact on health, society, and economy. Either right or wrong, the society deserve to know the science and whole truth, and not distorted inaccurate information like nowadays”.

E-cigarettes products are prohibited from being imported and distributed in the Kingdom of Thailand according to the Ministry of Commerce announcement in 2014, and the prohibition on sale and service according to the announcement of Office of the Consumer Protection Board in 2015. However, currently there are still more than 500,000 e-cigarette users who are secretly selling and buying through illegal channels such as the underground markets or online stores. The market value is estimated to be more than 6 billion baht annually.”

“The government cannot collect the tax on these products as income for the State, creating burden on the government agencies that have to arrest and crackdown on the illicit goods. This also creates confusion within the public about the potential of e-cigarettes. Currently, e-cigarettes are being sold widely, uncontrolled by the government, leaving opportunities for extortions by government officials, no measures to prevent youth access, plus, an increasing trend of e-cigarettes users.

“We would like to thank the Ombudsman for being the hope of the people and for giving the e-cigarette user network a chance to clarify the information as well as inviting all parties to discuss in order to be fair to e-cigarette users and to find appropriate solutions together.”

“We believe that good regulation must not restrict the rights of adults who want access to less harmful alternative products, and at the same time measures to protect children and youths from accessing these products. This is a guideline that more than 60 countries around the world use to regulate the product according to the law. We hope that the committee of the Ministry of Commerce and the TRC’s subsequent reviews will be impartial and take into account the impacts on every group of individuals”.

Best

Asa Saligupta

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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Protests

Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests

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Attendance on the wane for Thai democracy protests | Thaiger
PHOTO: Demonstration attendance has been falling in the face of Covid-19, coups and crackdowns.

While protesters against the Thai government are continuing as they have for endless months, attendance is lessening in the face of crackdowns, coups and Covid-19. The throngs of 10,000 plus protesters, mostly energetic youth, that waved The Hunger Games 3 finger salute and demanded change in Thailand last summer have thinned to a few thousand or less these days.

The government isn’t in the clear yet though, as the protester’s calls to replace the current government, lessen the power of the Thai monarchy, and draw up a new constitution are still popular ideas. But a number of factors are causing protester size and vigour to wane.

The second wave of Covid in December quickly curbed the daily demonstrations for fear of spreading the virus. After that, the coup in Myanmar on February 1 has brought massive protests with international attention shifting to the growing humanitarian crisis just across the border. On top of the pandemic and the Burmese coup, the Thai government has taken a much more hardline approach to protesters in recent months.

Police began fighting back against mass demonstrations, dispersing crowds with water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. And after 2 years of leniency, the government has begun prosecuting people under the strict lèse-majesté laws, where offending the monarchy can carry harsh punishment including a jail sentence of up to 15 years.

Anon Nampa, a human-rights lawyer, and Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak, a student activist, have already been arrested under this law and held without bail. Arrests like these have been demoralising for the pro-democracy movement, and have scared away a lot of Thai protesters. Many have shifted focus to more immediate efforts to demand the release of the detained protest leaders.

Even with the crowds shrinking, the protests have already brought about change, bringing once unspeakable conversations into the national conversation, and keeping pressure on Thailand’s leaders. Opposition is growing, with efforts to push no-confidence votes and amendments to the constitution being constantly proposed and advocated.

SOURCE: The Economist

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

VIP clubs may be spreading Covid-19 from rich to poor

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VIP clubs may be spreading Covid-19 from rich to poor | Thaiger
PHOTO: Facebook - Krystal Bar in Thong Lor was the site of a Covid-19 Outbreak

A third Covid-19 wave surging through Thailand is spreading through entertainment centres, including high-end VIP clubs rumoured to be popular with elite government officials. 559 Covid-19 infections and 1 death were reported today and the outbreak, which began in bars and clubs in the Thong Lor area of Bangkok among other nightlife hotspots, is surging, reaching 20 provinces throughout Thailand. Outbreaks in Chon Buri, Pattaya, and Phuket have also been linked directly to evening entertainment venues, such as the dance music festival in Phuket last weekend that resulted in 10 infections. Now, evidence is emerging that the wave is spreading through Bangkok’s wealthy elite and government officials.

In Phuket, where 70% vaccination of residents has been a primary focus in order to re-open to desperately needed tourism, the new outbreak has brought bar closures and new restrictions. And it looks like Songkran celebrations across the country will be muted, if not cancelled.

With nightlife and hospitality workers being disproportionately affected by the third wave of Covid-19, many are airing their frustrations with the VIP elite class contributing to the outbreak, including a trending hashtag #CovidThonglor. Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob was one of the first cabinet members to test positive for Covid-19, amid rumours that he had recently attended or been in proximity with someone who attended Krystal Club, an upscale entertainment business. Though he denies being there, the club is allegedly so popular among politicians and officials that it is often referred to by the nickname “Government House 2”. Nearly a third of cabinet ministers are now self-isolating for fear of Covid-19 exposure.

With 200,000 baht minimum spending limits, it’s a high-society hotspot that may be spreading Covid-19 from the rich VIP customers to the poor staff and everyone they come in contact with. Calls for government officials and other elites who attended VIP clubs like this to disclose their potentially embarrassing timelines have so far been mostly unheeded.

In Bangkok, hospitals and private medical facilities have been warning of a shortage of testing kits and Covid-ready hospital beds. Field hospitals have been erected to prepare as the outbreak expands with surging cases. Experts think the new outbreak may be contained in a month or two, but fear in Bangkok it may take much longer to recover.

SOURCE: SCMP

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