Concerns rise over vaping by young people

Concerns rise over vaping by young people

Illegal e-cigarettes easily available near schools, with packaging and flavours to appeal to children

Participants hold fans bearing messages urging the protection of young people from e-cigarette use at a seminar held on Wednesday by the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Foundation in Bangkok. (Photo: ASH Thailand Facebook)
Participants hold fans bearing messages urging the protection of young people from e-cigarette use at a seminar held on Wednesday by the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Foundation in Bangkok. (Photo: ASH Thailand Facebook)

Authorities need to do more to prevent e-cigarette use among young people, say participants who took part in a seminar held by the Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Foundation on Wednesday.

The illicit sale of e-cigarettes in schools worries Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, said Warawut Yancharoen, assistant minister of the Prime Minister’s office.

The premier has instructed the relevant agencies to address and halt the distribution of e-cigarettes in schools, he told some 100 participants from across the country.

He noted a survey by the Thailand Youth Institute, which found 72 shops selling e-cigarette in the capital, 51 of them near schools.

Mr Warawut said the institute also found that some e-cigarette products had been modified to increase their appeal to children. Some feature brightly coloured cartoon characters in their packaging, and flavours such as candy, fruit and mint.

“The threat of e-cigarettes among students is a great concern,” he said. “We found that some new users are only 13 years old. It is even worse that some students even bring these products to sell in schools.”

Mr Warawut said the Consumer Protection Board (CPB) would take action to eradicate vaping products, as well as raise awareness of the dangers of e-cigarettes among adolescents.

He also said the board would pursue legal action against those found involved with the distribution of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are believed to be the main reason smoking is on the rise among young people in Thailand.

Dr Prakit Vathesatogkit, the ASH chairman, cited a survey of 6,700 Thai youths aged between 13 and 15 nationwide, which found that the number of young smokers had jumped from 3.3% in 2015 to 17.6% in 2022, or almost 5.3 times.

The findings also showed an increase in smoking uptake among young women.

Dr Prakit stressed the importance of finding a solution to the vaping epidemic among youth, saying they face the risk of nicotine addiction for their entire lives.

Dr Suthep Phetmak, secretary-general of the National Health Commission (NHC), said a committee has been formed to draft a vaping control policy. The NHC also urged the government to continue enforcing its ban on the import of such products.

Pitaya Jinawat, of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) said it was working with various groups to reduce the prevalence of vaping among young people by boosting awareness among students, teachers and parents, educating them about the dangers of e-cigarettes and supporting vaping-control measures.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (7)