Drastic fivefold rise in e-cigarette use among Thai schoolchildren

Photo courtesy of Pratooyai School

E-cigarette usage amongst Thai schoolchildren has witnessed a drastic fivefold rise over the last seven years, with the majority of users starting their vaping journey during their primary school years, reveals a newly conducted study.

The study was carried out amongst 6,700 students and the findings were shared at a seminar, the collective effort of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education, the World Health Organisation, and the Tobacco Control Network.

Chayanan Sittibut, who is in charge of the Tobacco Products Control Board under the Department of Disease Control, expressed grave concern regarding the escalating trend of vaping amongst young Thai individuals. The findings show a significant leap from a mere 3.3% in 2015 to a staggering 17.6% in 2022 in e-cigarette usage amongst Thai youth, marking a fivefold increase.

The researchers also pointed out an alarming trend where the tobacco industry appears to be targeting a younger demographic. There has been a surge in online e-cigarette adverts, with a greater variety of flavours being introduced to lure in young vapers.

The study further highlighted the disturbingly positive perception of e-cigarettes among Thai youngsters. E-cigarettes are viewed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, resulting in a drop in tobacco usage from 72.2% to 59%, reported Bangkok Post.

When it comes to effective communication about the detrimental effects of tobacco, the study revealed that youngsters are increasingly under-informed, whether it is through media campaigns or cigarette packaging. Awareness levels have slid down from 74.9% to 61.3%.

E-cigarette control

Chayanan, commenting on the study’s findings, reasserted the urgent necessity for stronger e-cigarette control measures and a steadfast stance against legalising these products.

He stressed the importance of fostering a mutual understanding of the issues amongst young individuals, particularly through the effective use of social media channels.

Suwimon Chanpremprung, a representative from the Smoke-Free School Network, shared a startling revelation that children were found to start vaping during their primary school years, and e-cigarette sales within schools have seen an explosive increase.

“Some fifth-graders were found to be selling e-cigarettes to their friends or charging them five to 10 baht for each vape.”

Suwimon also raised concerns about the lack of awareness amongst some educators about the harm e-cigarettes can cause. She noted that some parents, under the misguided belief that e-cigarettes are safer, fail to dissuade their children from using them.

Suwimon advocated for the government to enforce stricter e-cigarette control measures as an essential step.

Vaping is illegal in Thailand, with severe penalties for importing, selling, or possessing vape products; enforcement is strict despite challenges. Learn more about the legality of vaping in Thailand.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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