Thai vaping trend: Rising e-cigarette use among youth sparks health concerns

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Survey data from Thailand’s Department of Health Service Support (DHSS) reveals a concerningly high proportion of young Thai individuals partaking in e-cigarette usage. The survey, conducted on a vast sample of 61,688 respondents ranging nationwide from April 25 to June 6, shows that 9.1% of young people use vapes. The influence of friends and peer pressure was cited as a major reason behind this concerning Thai vaping trend.

The survey data on the Thai vaping trend showed a significant variation across different regions of Thailand. Bangkok, the country’s bustling capital, exhibited the highest rate of vaping among young people, with 14.6% admitting to the use of such devices.

E-cigarettes, despite being illegal in Thailand, are commonly found and sold at many ephemeral street stalls, particularly dense in areas popular with tourists, contributing to the Thai vaping trend.

The second-highest prevalence rates were observed in two areas, both standing at 13.6%. These were classified as Area Health (AH) No.3, encompassing provinces including Chai Nat, Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Pichit and Uthai Thani, and the second as AH No.9 which includes Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Burirum and Surin.

A slightly lower prevalence rate of 13.2% was recorded in AH No.4, which consists of Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Nakhon Nayok.

In AH No.5, comprising of Bueng Kan, Loei, Nong Khai, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Udon Thani, Nakhon Phanom and Sakon Nakhon, the percentage stood at a worryingly high 12%.

Delving into the specifics of their habits, 92.2% of surveyed young people reported initiating the usage of e-cigarettes alongside friends. Smaller percentages cited extended family members (3.2%) and immediate family (1.6%) as their first companions when starting to vape. Furthermore, 43.9% of respondents admitted to smoking both traditional cigarettes and vapes.

Confirming the troubling trend, Surachete Phosaeng, deputy secretary-general of the Thailand Youth Institute (TYI), pointed to a separate study. The study found that among 300 young people detained for narcotic use, a staggering 95.4% smoked cigarettes and 79.3% vaped, with 30.5% of the latter using e-cigarettes daily reported Bangkok Post.

Alarmingly, 80.7% claimed to have initiated a physical addiction to cigarettes and vapes before experimenting with narcotics, according to the study.

Wannapha Narawet from the Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Centre expressed serious worries about the potentially severe health implications for minors using vaping devices, considering that their bodies are still developing.

The DHSS’s Dr Sura cautioned young people against bowing to peer pressure, stressing the need to abstain from smoking traditional tobacco products and e-cigarettes due to their substantial health risks.

To combat this rising tide, Deputy Chief of the DHSS, Samart Thirasak, revealed that various campaigns and interventions are being implemented to discourage young individuals from smoking. This is achieved through broad media exposure and the combined efforts of the Young Health Volunteers group.

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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