Police hit vape shops eyeing students
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Police hit vape shops eyeing students

Many e-cigarettes are seized during a police raid on a warehouse in Nonthaburi on Friday. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)
Many e-cigarettes are seized during a police raid on a warehouse in Nonthaburi on Friday. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)

Police have raided five e-cigarette shops near universities and communities in Bangkok and seized 10,000 e-cigarettes worth three million baht.

Prime Minister's Office Minister Puangpet Chunlaiad on Friday worked with the Office of the Consumer Protection Board (OCPB) and officers from Lat Phrao police station to raid the five stores in Lat Phrao and Ramkhamhaeng.

A total of 10,000 e-cigarettes of different varieties were seized, including regular-shaped e-cigarettes and toy pods -- the nicotine vaping devices that look like cartoon figurines -- worth a total of three million baht.

The biggest of the raided shops is located in Soi Lat Phrao 107 in the vicinity of a well-known private university.

The shop was run by two employees, aged 22 and 23. They claimed to not know who the owner was.

The shop made about 10,000 baht per day from selling e-cigarettes and most of its customers were university students. It did not sell its products to people aged under 20, the staff claimed.

According to Lertsak Raktham, deputy director of the OCPB's Special Operations Center, all the shop owners will be arrested.

Meanwhile, Dr Prakit Vathesatogkit, executive secretary of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation, said he is watching to see if the government takes action to stamp out e-cigarettes as Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin recently ordered several agencies to do so for the first time.

"In foreign countries such as England, France and Belgium -- where toy pods were available before they came to Thailand -- there are now legal regulations in place to prohibit their sales," said Dr Prakit.

He added a survey of Thai students showed the region with the most minors who smoke e-cigarettes is the Northeast, followed by the South, North and Central region.

On the same day, the Consumer Protection Police Division (CPPD) seized e-cigarettes worth about 20 million baht during a raid on a warehouse in Pak Kret district of Nonthaburi province.

CPPD police, armed with a search warrant issued by the Nonthaburi Provincial Court on Friday, searched the warehouse in tambon Ban following an investigation that e-cigarettes were stored there pending delivery.

During the operation, about 60,000-70,000 e-cigarettes were seized. 

A man, identified later as Wiroon Chantharasiri, 46, was arrested. He was tasked with packing them for delivery to customers.

Pol Maj Gen Wittaya Sriprasertparp, CPPD commander, said the raid followed the seizure of 6,162 e-cigarettes of various brands with a face value of about 1 million baht, at a house in tambon Khlong Khoi of Pak Kret on Thursday. 

Saran Arunrungkotchakorn, caretaker of the house, 28, was also arrested.

The CPPD investigators then extended the investigation, leading to the raid on the warehouse on Friday, said Pol Maj Gen Wittaya.

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