Chaiwut ups vape campaign

Chaiwut ups vape campaign

Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said on Friday he would push on with efforts to legalise e-cigarettes, despite the health risks critics say they pose.

Mr Chaiwut confirmed his position at a meeting with people campaigning for the legalisation of vapes and the like at his ministry.

Mr Chaiwut said legalising e-cigarettes would enable the country to tax their sales and would provide a safer option for those unable to quit smoking regular cigarettes.

He said he will form a working group to study the matter and invite people to sign in support of a request next month that the Constitutional Court should rule on whether banning imports of e-cigarettes violates the rights of the public, especially their right to enjoy access to less harmful products.

This would be followed by forums and seminars to expand public knowledge about e-cigarettes, Mr Chaiwut said. The minister said he had no vested interest in legalising vaping.

E-cigarettes have been banned in Thailand since 2014 but interest groups, including tobacco companies, are lobbying the government to lift the ban.

Meanwhile, Roengrudee Patanavanich, lecturer of the Community Medicine Department at the Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, cited the UK medical journal Thorax which claimed that inhaling secondhand smoke from an e-cigarette can increase the risk of developing chronic lung diseases and, in the majority of cases, shortness of breath.

She said the information was based on a five-year research undertaking that was conducted among high school students who shared the same house with e-cigarette smokers from 2014-2019. It found that bystanders have a higher tendency to suffer respiratory diseases, Dr Roengrudee said.

Dr Prakit Vathesatogkit, president of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation, referred to previous media reports about a Thai celebrity who was admitted to hospital after suffering bronchitis from inhaling the smoke of an e-cigarette. Due to a lack of clear information, many people doubted the danger e-cigarettes posed until this research came out, Dr Prakit said, adding that legalising e-cigarettes would cause other health problems to spike in the future.

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