Thursday, February 22, 2024

Thailand Will Reconfirm Longstanding Vape Prohibition


The government of Thailand has rejected the efforts of one cabinet minister to legalize and regulate nicotine vaping products, and will instead reconfirm the country’s ban on sales and import of e-cigarettes. Thailand’s vape ban has been in place since 2014, and has resulted in notoriously overzealous enforcement.

The National Tobacco Products Control Committee upheld the ban in a meeting last week, and Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Kiattiphum Wongrajit supports the decision, which will go to the cabinet for formal approval, according to The Nation Thailand. The cabinet (or Council of Ministers), which controls Thailand’s executive branch of government, is unlikely to overrule the committee and health minister.

The tobacco committee said that Thailand, as a signatory to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), should maintain the ban to prevent cigarette addiction by children and adolescents, according to The Nation Thailand. The FCTC doesn’t require member countries to ban vaping products, but generally supports prohibition and strict regulation.

The state-run Tobacco Authority of Thailand controls tobacco production and sales in the Southeast Asian country. Many countries with government-owned tobacco industries have passed restrictions or bans of e-cigarettes, which compete with state-sponsored cigarette sales that produce important tax revenue.

Minister of Digital Economy and Society Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn has urged the government to end its ban on vapes, which he believes offer a low-risk alternative for smokers. The cabinet minister’s position inspired panicky opposition from tobacco control and public health groups, most of which strictly follow the advice of the WHO and the Bloomberg Philanthropies-funded tobacco control groups that urge bans.

As recently as January, Thanakamanusorn had planned to set up a working group to study the issue and consider public opinion. It’s unclear whether the minister will now continue his campaign to legalize vaping products.

Despite Thailand’s strict laws, spotty enforcement has allowed a vaping product black market to flourish. The country also boasts capable vaping advocates in consumer group ECST.

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