“Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul may not support the legalization of e-cigarettes, but most politicians and the public do, with legal vape sales only months away,” says Asa Saligupta, Director of ECST (ENDS Cigarette Smoke Thailand).
Mr Saligupta’s comments follow the Public Health Minister publicly claiming his Ministry will not support legalization during a meeting with the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth).
“He is playing politics. After his abysmal handling of the pandemic, among other things, he could easily lose his seat at Thailand’s upcoming general election. He’s simply panicking but has completely under-estimated the wide support for legalizing and regulating vaping,” says Mr Saligupta.
With draft legislation before a sub-committee, the ECST Director remains confident that the vaping bill will be passed by Thailand’s parliament this year.
“The Thai Government can and will regulate safer nicotine products regardless of what one Minister says. Let’s not forget that Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, government officials, and public health experts have all been key to finally confronting Thailand’s failed tobacco control policies,” he says.
Mr Saligupta says Thailand’s harsh ban and penalties on vape imports and sales have failed.
“Smoking continues to kill about 50,000 Thai people each and every year. Too many smokers have been stuck with cigarettes or are forced onto the black market for vapes where there’s no control over the purchase age or product safety standards. An effective Public Health Minister would not accept this dire situation, let alone support it,” he says.
ECST believes it’s no surprise the Minister made his anti-vaping statement to ThaiHealth board members. Its senior adviser Dr Prakit Vathesatogkit was recently awarded the Dr Lee Jong-wook Memorial Prize by the World Health Organization (WHO) for his work against tobacco. He has also been a high-profile voice against legalizing vaping.
“ThaiHealth along with some local conservative health voices continue to publicly scaremonger, conveniently ignoring the growing Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) success globally. By joining the minority, Thailand’s Public Health Minister is now among an increasingly isolated crowd who continue to follow the WHO’s discredited anti-vape agenda,” he says.
Mr Saligupta says ignoring the WHO, nearly 70 countries have now adopted regulatory frameworks on safer nicotine products, leading to dramatic declines in their overall smoking rates. The Philippines and Malaysia are also set to legalize vaping.
“Thankfully the Thai Government remains on the right side of the debate. Regulating will give consumers better protection, encourage more smokes to quit deadly cigarettes, and ensure we have much better control over youth vaping with a strict purchase age,” he says.
ECST says THR experts and advocates from around the world have been alarmed at Mr Charnvirakul’s latest comments.
In recent months applause and accolades have come from around the world as Thai politicians and officials have committed to following significant international public health evidence and best practice.
“As someone who has been living and breathing this legalization journey over several years, I can assure everyone there is nothing to see here. Thailand’s sky-high smoking rate is set to be finally addressed with legal vape sales and product regulation now imminent,” says Mr Saligupta.
“Countries which have chosen to legalize and regulate e-cigarettes have seen a fall in overall smoking rates and have much better control over youth vaping. It’s exciting for Thailand, and in fact the world, that the Government is now set to overturn its ban on the sale of vape products,” says Asa Saligupta, Director of ECST (ENDS Cigarette Smoke Thailand).
Mr Saligupta says Thailand’s harsh ban and penalties on vape sales has meant too many smokers have been stuck with cigarettes, while young people buy e-cigarettes on the black market with no control over the purchase age or product safety standards.
“We’ve seen the legalization and regulation of vaping in places like the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand work very well. I’m delighted the Thai Government is now listening to the science with the adoption of effective Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) policies now increasingly imminent,” he says.
The ECST Director says Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, government officials, public health experts and advocates have all been key to finally addressing Thailand’s failed tobacco control policies.
He says despite the Minister adopting an evidence-based approach, local conservative health groups continue to unfairly target him and publicly scaremonger.
“It was a big breakthrough last year when the Minister told local media that vaping is safer for people trying to quit smoking. Since then, he has walked the talk – looking at ways vaping can be legalized. He fully understands it offers smokers a less harmful alternative to deadly cigarettes and protects non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
“Consumer groups like ours have worked hard to encourage our politicians and officials to follow the significant international public health evidence. It has been a long journey, but we’re pleased with the progress the Government’s working group continues to make on legalizing e-cigarette sales,” says Mr Saligupta.
A decade of international studies has proven vaping is miles safer than smoking, with Public Health England resolute that vaping remains 95% less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes.
International research also shows countries which have adopted progressive policies around vaping have seen their smoking rates fall twice as fast as those countries, such as Thailand, which haven’t.
Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates), says by lifting its long ban on vape sales, Thailand will join a proud international club of about 70 countries which have legalized vaping as an effective smoking cessation tool.
“Around the world, vaping is saving millions of ex-smokers’ lives and can save many more if safer nicotine products are embraced, not demonized. Thailand’s 10 million smokers have long deserved a readily and legally available alternative to cigarettes. The country’s sky-high smoking rate is totally unacceptable but thanks to the work of ECST and others, it’s about to be seriously addressed,” says Ms Loucas.
She says for a country where vaping can lead to arrests, sanctions, and even imprisonment, Thailand has been increasingly isolated internationally with its THR policies ineffective and unrealistic.
“By legalizing that sale of vapes, Thailand will join countries like the Philippines and Malaysia which are also waking up to the fact that vaping bans inevitably fail, leading to unnecessary smoking-related illnesses and deaths,” says Ms Loucas.
Both Mr Saligupta and Ms Loucas say the Digital Economy and Society Minister and Thai Government continue to receive applause and accolades from around the world for their newfound commitment to investigate the science, human evidence and regulatory framework around vaping.
Achieving legalization in Thailand, they say, would be a turning point internationally, leading to other countries rethinking their vaping bans.
A global collaboration of THR consumer groups, sCOPe, has launched a comprehensive library of online panel discussions and presentations. In November, sCOPe broadcast around the clock during COP9 – the 9th Conference of Parties for the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). To access sCOPe’s online library visit, https://bit.ly/319zzkx
Boasting over 14,000 testimonials, CAPHRA is calling on those who’ve quit cigarettes through smoke-free nicotine alternatives to tell their story on www.righttovape.org
For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics – please visit https://apthrmedia.org
This announcement comes despite strong opposition from local health activists and anti-smoking campaigners. The 13th Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health (APACT) which took place virtually from Bangkok earlier this month, presented a line up of speakers renowned for their irrational stance on tobacco harm reduction including the use of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation tools.
“APACT has wheeled out a totally predictable programme and line up of speakers who share an irrational and untenable position against safer nicotine products such as vaping. Also, in common is that many, if not most, are longtime Bloomberg grant recipients or indirect beneficiaries. Preaching to themselves in their echo chamber, they continue to ignore all the science and the harm they are causing consumers,” explained the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).
“September marks the start of the secret season which sadly sees supposed ‘tobacco control experts’ playing up to their puppet masters and denying Asia Pacific’s 600 million smokers’ access to safer nicotine products,” said CAPHRA Executive Coordinator Nancy Loucas.
The MP believes in the potential of e-cigs for smoking cessation
Meanwhile, Minister Chaiwut was quoted by The Bangkok Post as saying that he believes vaping could be available as a safer alternative for those who are struggling to quit smoking. Moreover, he said, local tobacco growers and the Tobacco Authority of Thailand would benefit greatly if the tobacco industry were transformed into a more sustainable alternative.
On the contrary, the National Alliance for a Tobacco-Free Thailand (NATFT), has issued a statement calling on the government to increase efforts to protect the public from all forms of tobacco products. “Various elements of society, both government and non-government, have been working hard to reduce the number of smokers, so legalising e-cigarettes will only exacerbate the situation,” said NATFT chairwoman Dr Somsri Pausawasdi.
Thailand ranked the worst country for vape regulations
A 2019 survey released at the annual Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) in Warsaw, ranked Thailand the worst country in the world to be an e-cigarette user in, and Australia the second worst.
In Thailand, a ban on the import, export, sale and possession of vaping products has been in place since November 2014. Anyone caught breaking this law will have their items confiscated and fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted.
“Thailand has a draconian approach with tourists as well as local people regularly getting arrested for vaping. Police often search vehicles at roadblocks for e-cigarettes and then use them to extract fines. This is not just terrible for Thai smokers who want to quit but also makes it a country to avoid for the tens of millions of tourists and business people around the world who vape,” said Asa Ace Saligupta who runs the Ends Cigarette Smoke Thailand (ESCT) consumer group at the time.
“The brave call by a Thai Government Minister for Thailand to overturn its harsh ban on the sale of vape products has received applause and accolades from around the world,” says Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).
Her comments follow Thailand’s Digital Economy and Society Minister, Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, telling local media that vaping is safer for people trying to quit smoking. What’s more, he is now looking at ways vaping could be legalised in order to offer a less harmful alternative to smoking regular cigarettes.
“Support for the Minister has gone global! This should be a massive wake-up call for Thailand’s Government. He’s on the side of science and his calls have exposed the fact that Thailand has fallen well behind internationally when it comes to adopting effective Tobacco Harm Reduction(THR) policies,” says Ms Loucas.
Predictably, Mr Thanakamanusorn’s support for vaping has been met with swift and severe criticism by some organisations in Thailand.
The National Alliance for a Tobacco-Free Thailand (NATFT) said a lot of work has gone into reducing the number of smokers and claimed that ‘legalising e-cigarettes will only exacerbate the situation’. The Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Center (TRC) claimed ‘e-cigarettes are not safer choices for people who want to quit smoking’ and could do more harm than good.
The Royal College of Physicians of Thailand was also quick to take issue with the suggestions, and the Medical Association of Thailand sent an open letter to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha demanding he caution the Minister.
“What rock have these people been living under? The Minister deserves a medal, not mockery. International research shows countries which have adopted progressive policies around vaping have seen their smoking rates fall twice as fast as those countries, such as Thailand, which haven’t,” says Ms Loucas.
Asa Saligupta, Director of ECST (ENDS Cigarette Smoke Thailand), says Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn has been unfairly targeted by local conservative health groups. He says the Minister’s intentions to legalise e-cigarettes were not only good, but evidence based.
“ECST put the call out on social media for Thai vapers, smokers and allies of THR to show their total support and solidary for the Minister. We’ve since been blown away with the positive response, nationally and internationally, to his progressive position. He has done a lot to shine light on Thailand’s failed tobacco control policies, which hopefully are now a little closer to one day changing for good,” says Mr Saligupta.
Ms Loucas says vaping is the world’s most effective smoking cessation tool and smart countries like the Philippines are set to embrace it, not ban it.
“Unfortunately, Thailand is part of an increasingly isolated and fast shrinking club in Asia Pacific that is showing the world how to do THR really badly.
“Australia, Hong Kong and India are also in this club that’s acted on the corrupt advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) and its sponsor American billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Vaping bans inevitably fail, leading to totally unnecessary smoking-related illnesses and deaths,” says Ms Loucas.
CAPHRA says the Minister is right to point out that e-cigarettes are legal in at least 67 countries. He’s also accurate in his observation that they could offer a safer alternative to Thailand’s 10 million smokers.
A decade of international studies has proven vaping is miles safer than smoking, with Public Health England resolute that vaping remains 95% less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes.
“Thailand’s Government has failed to adopt effective policies and programmes that will significantly reduce the country’s sky-high national smoking problem. If it wants to save lives, it needs to urgently rethink its ban on vaping product sales.
“The Government and key local NGOS have instead been influenced by money. Alarmingly, that has meant the WHO and billionaire bullies like Michael Bloomberg have controlled key parts of Thailand’s domestic health policy. Further, we’ve got the evidence to prove this undue foreign interference is rife throughout the region,” says Nancy Loucas.
Now live and boasting over 14,000 testimonials, CAPHRA is calling on those who’ve quit cigarettes through smoke-free nicotine alternatives to tell their story on www.righttovape.org
Consumer groups in the Asia Pacific region have also launched a petition at change.org/v4v-petition. It urges the WHO to respect consumer rights and to stop demonizing THR options ahead of the Ninth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in November.
For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics – please visithttps://apthrmedia.org
The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Advocates (CAPHRA) is a regional alliance of consumer tobacco harm reduction advocacy organisations. Its mission is to educate, advocate and represent the right of adult alternative nicotine consumers to access and use of products that reduce harm from tobacco use.
THAILAND has been ranked as the worst place in the world for vapers.
Holidaymakers to the country have been warned that flouting its draconian laws which ban the import, export, sale and possession of e-cigarettes could see them end up with big fines or even jail time.
Australia has been ranked the second worst at this year’s Global Forum on Nicotine which saw 500 delegates from 60 countries vote, while India came in third.
Members of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations were each allowed to nominate up to five countries in the worst category and five in the best from a list of the world’s 100 most populated countries.
From 36 members, an overwhelming 33 nominated Thailand as having the most unreasonable vaping regulations while 18 nominated Australia and 16 chose India.
In Thailand, the strict vaping rules have been in place since November 2014.
Anyone found breaking the law will have their items confiscated as well as face a hefty fine or a prison sentence of up to 10 years if convicted.
Last December two young adults in Pathum Thani made the headlines for being arrested and then jailed for selling vaping products via Facebook. It sparked a petition urging law makers to review the ban whilst referring to regulations across Europe where e-cigarettes are legal. Many vaping tourists are also known to fall foul of the law at police roadblocks where the officers search vehicles for e-cigarettes and issue easy on-the-spot fines.
Asa Ace Saligupta, who runs the End Cigarette Smoke Thailand consumer group, said: “Thailand has a draconian approach with tourists as well as local people regularly getting arrested for vaping. Police often search vehicles at roadblocks for e-cigarettes and then use them to extract fines.
“This is not just terrible for Thai smokers who want to quit but also makes it a country to avoid for the tens of millions of tourists and business people around the world who vape.”
Meanwhile, the UK was voted the most progressive for its vaping regulations with 32 nominations, followed by Germany with 25 and France with 23.
As well as Public Health England declaring in a report earlier this year that vaping is 95 per cent safer than smoking, the UK’s pharmacy minister Steve Brine, had said that he would consider using cigarette packets to promote e-cigarettes to help more smokers in the country give up.
Prof. Gerry Stimson of the UK charity New Nicotine Alliance said: “The United Kingdom government has had the most remarkable change of heart on vaping. Four years ago, it was trying to ban all e-cigarettes on the market. Today, the UK has three million vapers – and this is accelerating the decline in smoking among the British.”
CEO of Public Health England Duncan Selbie said: “It’s now hard to believe that back in 1974 almost half of adults smoked. But now an end really is in sight and we have a real opportunity to virtually eliminate all the harm, misery and death caused by smoking.”
The Thailand Prime Minister announced that the ban on e-cigarettes would remain unchanged.
Since 2014, Thailand has regulated electronic cigarettes as legal contraband. It is illegal to hold, use, import, export and sell electronic cigarettes. Once captured, the criminal must face severe legal sanctions, which lead many users of electronic cigarettes to be afraid of Thailand.
The Task Force led by the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand has designated the Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Centre (TRC) to conduct research to address legal obstacles affecting the implementation of the electronic tobacco ban. At the same time, the head of Thailand’s consumption tax department also said that if the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Health could reach an agreement on importing e-cigarette goods, the consumption tax department would be open and taxed on the use of e-cigarettes and handle on other matters.
But the problem is that the Ministry of Commerce hasn’t melted the iceberg of the Ministry of Health from the latest developments of the Thai government, and the Prime Minister of Thailand has recently said that electronic cigarettes are illegal products. That is to say, Thailand has been wavering in the regulation of electronic cigarettes, from the early vigorous opposition, to the news that it may be legitimate, and until recently the Prime Minister of Thailand said that it is still prohibited, it seems that there is still a long way to go for the legitimacy of electronic cigarettes in Thailand…
Cigarette Control Center still misunderstands electronic cigarette
According to Thai headline news reports, on August 19, the Thai vape policy promotion conference was held at The Sukosol Hotel in Bangkok. Thai Center for Tobacco Control Director Lunachai said at the meeting: The Center is part of the Ministry of Commerce’s Feasibility Analysis Committee on Promoting E-cigarette Import Policy.
In order to protect the health of the nation and keep young people away from the hazards of electronic cigarettes, experts, scholars, lawyers and staff of the Department of Disease Control of the Ministry of Health have unanimously recommended that the ban on the import of electronic cigarettes be maintained.
“Electronic cigarette is a kind of cigarette smoking through vaporized liquid, 95% of electronic cigarettes on the market contain nicotine.” Ms. Napala, a physician at Lamatibdi Hospital, said at the meeting that e-cigarettes may make people addicted to nicotine. Even if some people want to use e-cigarettes to get away from traditional cigarettes, relevant data show that only 5% to 9% of people successfully quit smoking with the help of e-cigarettes.
Ms. Napala also pointed out that nicotine was more addictive than heroin because smokers could add 3 to 10 times more nicotine to vapes than regular cigarettes. Excessive nicotine can lead to rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, cerebral vasoconstriction and, in severe cases, stroke.
“Among adolescents who continue to use e-cigarettes, they are more likely to become addicted to traditional cigarettes than adolescents who have never used e-cigarettes. That is to say, if you smoke electronic cigarettes, it will be more difficult to quit smoking! In addition, in animal experiments, the smoke of electronic smoke proved to cause lung lesions, and then suffer from lung diseases such as chronic pulmonary obstruction.
“Those who smoke electronic cigarettes are setting a bad example for the next generation.” Ms. Napala said.” Especially parents who smoke at home, or social idols who have smoke habits, can imperceptibly influence adolescents to follow suit,”
Thailand’s Prime Minister has a tough attitude to vapes
On August 20, Thailand officially issued a new version of the Domestic Violence Act, that is, smoking at home in the future can be regarded as home violence against family members. Of course, electronic cigarettes are no exception.
Thai authorities say that e-cigarettes also contain nicotine. Smoking at home can cause physical and mental harm to family members, such as:
1. Weakening family relations, keeping wives and children away, and affecting children’s growth;
2. When not smoking, the temper is short-tempered and easy to produce home violence.
3. Second hand and three hand smoke affect family health.
In response, Thai courts issued mandatory orders to isolate smokers from victims and provide smokers with smoking cessation assistance.
Thailand banned the import, sale and possession of electronic cigarettes in 2014. Violators will be punished according to the notification order of the Ministry of Commerce. Carry and use electronic cigarettes will be sentenced to up to five years’imprisonment or a fine of not more than 500,000 baht (about 100,000 RMB) or both; if there is import, export and sales, the maximum sentence of 10 years or a fine of not more than 1 million baht (about 200,000 RMB), or both.
Thailand’s Prime Minister, General Bayu, also said on August 20 when the new law was promulgated that Thailand’s ban on electronic cigarettes should be maintained. “Currently, according to the original law, electronic cigarettes are classified as illegal goods, and import, sale and possession are prohibited.”
According to Gerald Margolis, general manager of PMI Thailand, the company has met with the Ministry of Commerce and the Consumer Tax Department and published a lot of scientific research on the health advantages of smokeless alternatives in the Ministry of Public Health.
General Bayu’s explanation, however, is that “some people want these valuable black market products to be legalized.” He went on to add, “The government can’t simply consider the economic impact of making a decision on this issue. Electronic cigarettes will also affect people’s health and increase the burden of health care.
PMI also responded that it would continue to lobby with the new government, expecting the government to shift to the sale of smokeless products “as soon as possible”.
Research data ignored by the Thai authorities
From the response of the Prime Minister of Thailand and the regulatory position of the tobacco control center, the Thai government is still very tough. Although it is necessary and must for regulators to strictly review vape products, the tobacco control center does not seem to take positive research information into account.
Dr. Michael Siegel, a public health expert, has published research findings on e-cig in social media. In a relatively small and airless vape store, many employees and 13 customers frequently “smoke” and generate a large amount of smoke to fill the space. Create an “extreme environment” that is highly exposed to vapors.
After detection and analysis, even in the small unventilated space, more than ten people continuously use electronic cigarette, which fills the whole space. The results of the detection report still show that no toxic and harmful substances have been detected to reach the dangerous level.
According to the Bangkok Post, Philip Morris International (PMI) is lobbying the Thai government to lift the ban on alternatives to smoking, such as electronic cigarettes and HNB tobacco products.
According to Gerald Margolis, general manager of Phillip Morris Thailand, the company has met with the Ministry of Commerce and the Consumer Tax Department and published a lot of scientific research on the health advantages of smoke-free alternatives in the Ministry of Public Health.
“We will continue to provide factual, non-ideological research and results from other countries and governments,” Margolis said. “It would be foolish to regulate electric vehicles without consulting automakers, so there should be a dialogue with the tobacco industry in the formulation of tobacco regulation.”
As of 2017, Thailand had 10.7 million smokers (19.1% of the country). Despite various anti-smoking laws, the number of smokers has declined by only 4% in the past 13 years, or 0.3% annually. Thailand is one of the most restrictive cigarette markets, banning marketing and in-store display, and plans to introduce generic non-brand packaging by the end of the year.
The Thai authorities are considering legalizing e-cigarette imports, but companies have to pay a higher tariff
According to the report of the China Daily of Thailand on October 03, the Thai authorities are considering legalizing the import of e-cigarettes, but companies have to pay a higher tariff.
According to sources from the Thai Ministry of Commerce, recently, they will discuss with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports whether the e-cigarette import ban should be lifted. Officials said that they have received petitions from multiple parties (law enforcement and business circles) to legalize the import of e-cigarettes.
Many problems have been discovered from the actual implementation of the regulations. Regardless of the illegal import and smuggling problems, there are also cases in which the law enforcement process is difficult to control. The other is whether the impact of e-cigarettes on physical health is higher than that of ordinary cigarettes, and there is no strong evidence and research evidence.
The initial solution is to cancel the e-cigarette import ban and switch to a relatively high tariff rate. Because the ban does not keep e-cigarettes out of the country, it can be easily bought even in the ordinary market or on the online shopping platform. In other words, is it more manipulative to liberalize import restrictions and effectively regulate tariffs?
Officials believe that the primary problem that the parties discuss at present is to be able to prove that the e-cigarette hazard is not as large as ordinary cigarettes. There is a big difference in the focus of disputes on who is more harmful. Cigarette companies believe that e-cigarettes will produce more harmful substances after burning, and thus are more harmful to human health. In contrast, e-cigarette supporters believe that smoking e-cigarettes is safer than regular cigarettes. But in any case, it is necessary to establish a correct cognitive feeling that smoking is harmful.
Throughout the world, governments have different attitudes toward e-cigarettes. The number of countries in the same camp is about 30, accounting for about 15% of the world. In other words, most countries still have relatively loose regulations on e-cigarettes.
For the Department of Commerce, as long as there is sufficient evidence to prove that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, it will not be difficult for the Ministry of Commerce to lift the ban.
In addition, the cabinet adopted a decision to raise the cigarette tax on the 2nd regular meeting. That is, for every cigarette sold, the tobacco company needs to pay 2% of the tax to the social security fund.
Note: The content comes from Taihua net is for reference only.