Vaping network urges Thai authorities to rethink e-cigarette laws

“Thai authorities had demanded a 40,000 baht bribe from a Frenchwoman to free her after she was arrested for possessing an e-cigarette.”

E-cigarette users are calling on the Thai government to quickly come up with appropriate solutions to regulate e-cigarettes, and clarify the current laws, in order to protect the country’s image among foreign tourists.

The network say it also plans to submit suggestions to the PM Prayut Chan-o-cha. They say the current laws are confusing and not well understood by travellers heading to the Kingdom for holidays.

The suggestion was in response to a news report on French online media outlet Var-matin, which reported that Thai officials had demanded a 40,000 baht bribe from a Frenchwoman to free her after she was arrested for possessing an e-cigarette.

The 31 year old woman was on vacation in Phuket back in January. She was allowed to return home last month, but then shared her experience with French media.

“The news hurts the country’s image as a tourist destination. It’s a result of the ban on e-cigarettes which causes confusion in law enforcement,” Maris Karanyawat, representing the End Cigarette Smoke Thailand group.

He said the network wanted the Commerce Ministry’s Department of Foreign Trade to quickly find appropriate regulations that could replace the ban on e-cigarettes.

In 2014 Thailand banned the import, sale and servicing of e-cigarettes, with violators facing punishment based on notifications from the Commerce Ministry as well as orders from the Consumer Protection Board.

A working panel led by the ministry late last year assigned the Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Centre to conduct a study of legal hurdles affecting implementation of the ban.

“We are concerned that the TRC may not be a suitable agency to conduct the study because they would be prejudiced, and that could lead to results that are neither comprehensive nor fair,” Maris said.

He said he had earlier submitted a letter to the ministry urging that a more neutral agency be assigned to study the pros and cons of e-cigarettes.

“If no action is taken, we will submit the letter to PM Prayut,” he said.

Meanwhile, an English travel agent is urging others to tell their customers not to vape in Thailand as they could face up to 10 years in prison.

Pat Waterton, manager at Langley Travel, said she was unaware of the ban and only learnt of the law when her nephew James was forced to pay £125 (5,250 baht) as an on-the-spot fine after being threatened with jail for having an e-cigarette in Bangkok.

Waterton says, “If I’m selling Thailand as a travel destination I will definitely mention it now. All agents should. Thailand is very popular so we should make sure we are telling people about things that could ruin a holiday.”

SOURCE: The Nation

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