Rise of the killer 'toys'
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Rise of the killer 'toys'

As we celebrate World No Tobacco Day today, society, especially parents, are facing a new challenge -- the rise of young smokers and deceptively packaged but harmful tobacco products like "toy pods", the fifth generation of e-cigarettes designed to be both collectable and appealing to youngsters.

The recent growth of young nicotine addicts is so concerning that the World Health Organization has made "protecting children from tobacco industry interference" a theme of this year's No Tobacco Day.

According to 2022 data from the WHO, at least 37 million young people aged 13–15 years use some form of tobacco.

In Europe, 11.5% of boys and 10.1% of girls aged 13–15 are tobacco users. In some European countries, the rates of e-cigarette use among school children are 2-3 times higher than the rates of cigarette smoking.

The tobacco industry, which has faced many lawsuits due to the impact of its products on people's health, has recently reinvented itself.

Young consumers are becoming a new target of an industry that is trying to replace the millions of customers who either die from or decide to quit using tobacco products every year.

The industry has also been busy developing products such as e-cigarettes and oral nicotine pouches.

New advertising tactics have also been deployed to make those products appeal to children and adolescents, reaching them through social media and streaming platforms.

Businesses have sent lobbyists to promote favourable laws such as legalising e-cigarettes, and eradicate unfavourable policies like high taxes.

Despite the government having banned e-cigarettes, harmful products are easy to purchase online.

Toy pods are selling for 100-300 baht and can easily be purchased.

Studies show that 309 online vendors were found to be illegally selling e-cigarettes through social media channels, including X, Facebook and Instagram.

In March, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin ordered agencies to arrest wrongdoers and launch campaigns against toy pods.

But three months have passed without any significant improvement.

On April 19, police raided five e-cigarette shops near universities and communities in Bangkok and seized 10,000 e-cigarettes worth 3 million baht. But this is just a drop in the ocean.

What is missing is a public campaign to educate parents and young students about the health risks involved.

In the past, our lawmakers fought tooth and nail to remove marijuana from the streets.

Hopefully, our politicians can apply equal resources to prevent these harmful tobacco products from falling into our children's hands.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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