Cops nab 'big supplier' of baraku, e-cigarettes

Cops nab 'big supplier' of baraku, e-cigarettes

Authorities search a shop selling e-cigarettes and baraku in Maha Sarakham. The owner was arrested for operating the shop which sells the smoking equipment online and directly to customers. Jakkraphan Natanri
Authorities search a shop selling e-cigarettes and baraku in Maha Sarakham. The owner was arrested for operating the shop which sells the smoking equipment online and directly to customers. Jakkraphan Natanri

Maha Sarakham: Police have arrested an e-cigarette and baraku seller believed to be a major supplier of illegal smoking devices to university students and tourists.

The suspect, identified as Thotsaphon Khongkham, 27, allegedly defied the law openly by running his shop close to a local university in Kantharawichai district. The shop also serves customers from nearby provinces, said Pol Lt Col Thanathat Siphiphat, police inspector of Tourist Police Bureau's sub-division 2. The seller was packing up the products for mail delivery when the officers, led by Pol Lt Col Thanathat's team, raided the premises.

His shop, Banlang, is similar to the name of Mr Thotsaphon's Facebook page, "Pat banlang," which he uses to advertise his products and receive orders from customers.

Some customers bought the e-cigarettes and the baraku smoking paraphernalia, which are banned from sale, directly from the shop and many such customers visited the shop regularly, Pol Lt Col Thanathat said. Police investigators believe the shop is a major supplier of smoking equipment.

During the raid Thursday, police seized many items, including e-cigarettes, chargers, 40 bottles of chemicals and a baraku, a type of smoking device with a long pipe.

Mr Thotsaphon allegedly admitted to police he sold the smoking paraphernalia with a starting price of 1,100 baht apiece. By selling the smoking equipment he had condoned people indulging in addiction, Pol Lt Col Thanathat said. Authorities have listed e-cigarettes and baraku as prohibited items. Studies have found a baraku exposes smokers to toxic substances while public health officials stand firm on their ban on e-cigarettes.

In 2016, the World Health Organisation urged countries to restrict sales of e-cigarettes after a report found they and similar devices can put smokers at risk. Despite arguments from supporters that e-cigarettes do not pose a critical risk to smokers' health, both e-cigarettes and baraku are prohibited under Commerce Ministry regulations.

A major crackdown on e-cigarettes took place last year when police raided a warehouse in Kanchanaburi's Muang district where they confiscated many smoking kits and accessories worth about three million baht.

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