Senator says officers are taking bribes from traders
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Senator says officers are taking bribes from traders

Activists and volunteers wear anti-smoking caps during a campaign to observe World No Tobacco Day. (File photo)
Activists and volunteers wear anti-smoking caps during a campaign to observe World No Tobacco Day. (File photo)

Some traders in Thailand are paying bribes to the authorities so they can illegally sell e-cigarettes in the country, Somchai Sawaengkan, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Human Rights, Freedom and Consumer Protection, revealed.

Mr Somchai posted a notice on his Facebook account on Friday, calling the bribes to sell e-cigarettes a tool for "stealing money from tourists" that is "ruining the country's tourism".

He said e-cigarettes, which are illegal in Thailand, are commonly being sold in marketplaces like Chatuchak and Khlong Thom Market, as well as in touristy areas like Thong Lor or Khao San Road.

This is because some police officers are using e-cigarettes as a tool to threaten tourists with criminal charges, the post claimed, citing a report about a Taiwanese actress who was threatened with a criminal charge for having a vaping device and paid 27,000 baht before leaving the country on Jan 5.

Mr Somchai said Thai Customs should also take the blame for any form of bribery involving e-cigarettes as traders who want to import e-cigarettes need to pay bribes to customs officers to let them import the vaping devices.

An import ban and the strictest control measures are suggested for authorities to control e-cigarettes, Mr Somchai wrote in his post, claiming that the suggested measures might be more effective than just pressing charges against each case that surfaces to their knowledge.

Former politician Chuvit Kamolvisit also stated that corruption in Thailand, particularly pertaining to the fact that e-cigarettes are so common, even among police officers, should be discussed more widely in society so that any graft prevention measures against the police force can be implemented as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Trinuch Tianthong responded to a question about the popularity of e-cigarettes among young people by saying the ministry has implemented several control measures, including a ban on e-cigarettes in schools.

According to a ministry survey, the youngest e-cigarette smoker found so far was a 12-year-old Prathom 5 student at a school in the Northeast. The student, along with 20 other young smokers, had saved up their money just to try e-cigarettes, said Ms Trinuch.

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