Government considering legalising e-cigarettes amid outcry from health groups

PHOTO: Flickr/Lindsay Fox

The government is looking at ways e-cigarettes could be legalised, in order to offer a less harmful alternative to smoking regular cigarettes. The Digital Economy and Society Minister, Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, says he believes vaping is safer for people trying to quit smoking, but his comments have been met with fierce opposition from health campaigners, according to a Bangkok Post report.

The minister has pointed out that e-cigarettes are legal in at least 67 countries, but remain banned in Thailand. He says that not only could they offer a safer alternative to Thailand’s 10 million smokers, but home-grown tobacco could potentially be used in e-cigarettes for export, benefiting both the Tobacco Authority of Thailand and Thai tobacco growers.

However, Somsri Pausawasdi from the National Alliance for a Tobacco-Free Thailand has pushed back against the suggestion, adding that thousands of people in Thailand die from smoking every year.

“Various elements of society, both government and non-government, have been working hard to reduce the number of smokers, so legalising e-cigarettes will only exacerbate the situation.”

She goes on to say that all 924 of NATFT’s member organisations support the existing ban on e-cigarettes and any other new smoking methods and have offered to work with the government on new regulations governing such products.

According to the Bangkok Post, Ronnachai Kongsakon from the Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Centre says that worldwide studies into the use of e-cigarettes indicate that vaping could do more harm than good. He insists e-cigarettes are not a safer alternative for people who want to stop smoking, pointing out that little is known about the long-term health effects.

Meanwhile, the global International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease has advised that the best way for low to medium-income countries to deal with health problems arising from e-cigarettes is to ban them.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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