The government has affirmed its stance against vaping, saying e-cigarettes are affecting the health of vapers of whom more than half are considered youths.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul stressed the need to continue banning e-cigarette imports to protect youths from vaping health risks when he spoke at a national conference on cigarettes and public health held in Bangkok on Monday.
A survey conducted by the National Statistical Office of Thailand last year found more than half of the about 80,000 e-cigarette smokers in Thailand were people aged 15 to 24.
"This clearly showed vaping has created new smokers, especially young people, while a growing number of international studies found smoking e-cigarettes has negative effects on young people's brains," said Mr Anutin.
Learning from the experiences of other countries in dealing with vaping problems, he said Thailand has found there currently is no other option more effective in controlling vaping than banning the import of e-cigarettes.
Crackdowns on e-cigarettes smuggled into the country will also continue to limit access to the products on the black market, he said.
Citing 6,971 international studies published between 2014 and 2021, Asst Prof Dr Vijj Kasemsap, director of Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Centre(TRC), said vaping is associated with various diseases, namely respiratory, heart and blood vessel, oral and dental, brain, liver and skin diseases.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already warned that nicotine in e-cigarettes is harmful to all systems in the human body as it causes blood vessels to contract and consequently obstructs blood flow, Dr Vijj said, noting there are also several other toxic chemical compounds found in e-cigarettes, he said.
Vaping is associated with 1.8 times higher risk of ischemic heart disease, a 49% higher risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and a 39% higher risk of asthma, he said, citing the American Heart Association.
Exposure to vapour containing nicotine, directly or indirectly, affects the brain of unborn babies and is associated with a number of health problems including some irregularities with their nervous system, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and low birth weight.
"Vaping during this period of life decreases brain development by three to four times the normal development rate," Dr Vijj said.