Network fired up over electronic cigarette ban

Network fired up over electronic cigarette ban

Group adamant that 'vaping' saves lives

A network of e-cigarette users yesterday pressed the National Legislative Assembly to consider lifting the ban on the import, production, sale and possession of electronic cigarettes.

The Commerce Ministry earlier this year banned e-cigarettes and related products.

Siripol Yodmuangcharoen, chairman of the NLA's commerce subcommittee who received the petition, said the group backed calls for the ban to be reversed with information that 160 countries allow the sale of e-cigarettes, while only 15 countries ban them.

The group also claimed the ban on imported e-cigarettes in particular results in a substantial loss in import tax revenues, Mr Siripol said.

The subcommittee will discuss the group's demand, he said.

Maris Karanyawat, the network representative, said the group presented its petition to the NLA along with signatures of more than 17,000 people supporting the fight to protect the rights of more than 11 million cigarette smokers to gain access to e-cigarettes.

The ban deprives cigarette smokers of the chance to turn to e-cigarettes which help wean them off conventional cigarettes, Mr Maris said. The import ban also encourages young people to buy the paraphernalia illegally off the internet, he said.

Asa Salikhup, another network representative, said e-cigarettes were dogged by misinformation. He said the British Department of Health and the Royal College of Physicians found that e-cigarettes are far less harmful to health than tobacco smoking.

In a fresh crackdown on illegal e-cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and vaping liquid were seized and a suspect detained in a high-profile raid carried out in Chon Buri's Bang Lamung district on Tuesday.

Confiscated were 37 e-cigarettes and 542 bottles of vaping liquid, which were considered to be contraband, said Naris Niramaiyawong, chief of Bang Lamung district office, who led the raid.

Bowonwong Yenprasit, 33, allegedly admitted renting a building to store the e-cigarettes and related products, which he claimed were purchased from suppliers in the nearby area. He was also accused of selling the products to customers, Mr Naris said.

However, Mr Bowonwong denied he advertised the products via social media. He said he dealt with "walk-in customers" and he earned about 4,000 baht a day from selling e-cigarette products.

Mr Naris said authorities did not believe Mr Bowonwong's claim that he operated the business on his own. The investigation will be expanded to determine if the business had links to a wider crime network.

Meanwhile, about 6,500 Thais die each year because they are exposed to other people's cigarette smoke, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The WHO said second-hand smoke causes cancer, heart attacks, strokes and chronic respiratory diseases in people who do not smoke themselves.

There is no risk-free level of second-hand smoke exposure -- even brief exposure can be harmful to health. The only way to fully protect non-smokers is to eliminate smoking in all homes, worksites, and public places.

"Deaths from second-hand smoke are completely avoidable," said the WHO Representative to Thailand, Daniel Kertesz.

"Smoke-free homes and workplaces can help reduce the harm associated with second-hand smoke exposure among non-smokers, prevent the uptake of smoking among youth and decrease social approval of smoking," Dr Kertesz added. Second-hand smoke continues to endanger the health of children including triggering asthma attacks and increasing the risk of respiratory and ear infections, he said.

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