Doctors urge parties to keep vape ban

Doctors urge parties to keep vape ban

Anti-smoking activists say more personnel needed to enforce existing law

A customs officer uses a hammer to destroy e-cigarettes during a media briefing on Feb 23 about the seizure of 72 million baht worth of e-cigarettes and related goods. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
A customs officer uses a hammer to destroy e-cigarettes during a media briefing on Feb 23 about the seizure of 72 million baht worth of e-cigarettes and related goods. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

Anti-smoking activists are urging political parties and their candidates to speak out against the use of e-cigarettes as they campaign for the May 14 general election.

Using e-cigarettes has become popular among Thais, especially teenagers, even though they are illegal, said Dr Prakit Vathesatogkit, executive secretary of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation.

Research shows that nicotine in e-cigarettes can have harmful health effects on users, especially children and youths, he said. Also, vaping can trigger an addiction to smoking that leads to using traditional cigarettes.

Some manufacturers have campaigned to lift the ban on e-cigarettes, a law enforced since 2014, said Dr Prakit. Anyone found breaking the law can be arrested and face jail time, or a fine several times the value of the illegal item(s).

Some foreign travellers unaware of the ban have been caught with e-cigarettes and fined or arrested. In one high-profile case, police stand accused of extorting money from a Taiwanese actress after finding vaping devices in the possession of her group. Her Singaporean companion said he assumed the devices were legal since he’d bought them in Bangkok.

Travellers coming to Thailand are advised not to bring any electronic cigarettes with them, nor any related items, such as the liquid used in a vaping device.

Dr Prakit thanked agencies that had long been proactive in combating e-cigarettes, including the Royal Thai Police, the Office of the Consumer Protection Board, the Customs Department and local authorities. However, e-cigarette confiscation can be difficult due to a lack of personnel, he said.

Consequently, he has called on the government to rigidly enforce the law and provide enough people to tackle the problem. He said parties also should promote the e-cigarette ban in their election campaigns.


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