“We remain confident that Thailand’s parliament will legalise and regulate vaping once the likely May General Election has been held. The issue is simply too big to ignore and the science too compelling,” said Saligupta. “The authorities seem keen to remind visiting tourists that vaping remains illegal in the Kingdom. However, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be that way. We continue to make good progress behind the scenes.”
He highlighted that Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) advocates and consumer groups such as the ECST have long been working with government officials, who know exactly what needs to be done to address Thailand’s smoking epidemic. “This work has been several years in the making. It hasn’t stopped. In fact, draft vaping legislation awaits Thailand’s parliament to debate and ratify. Realistically though, the General Election will take precedence.”
The ECST Director added that most politicians, as well as the public are in favour of lifting the ban. “I remain fully confident that safer nicotine products will be regulated in Thailand. Regulation will give consumers better protection, encourage more smokers to quit deadly cigarettes, and ensure we have much better control over youth vaping with a strict purchase age.”
In 2021, the situation looked hopeful when MP Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said he was exploring ways to legalize the sales of e-cigarettes. He was quoted by The Bangkok Post as saying he believes vaping could be available as a safer alternative for those who are struggling to quit smoking. Moreover, he said that local tobacco growers and the Tobacco Authority of Thailand would benefit greatly if the tobacco industry were transformed into a more sustainable one.
In January 2022, the minister reaffirmed his stance at a gathering where people were campaigning at his ministry. He said that regulating e-cigarettes would enable the country to profit from tax revenue as well as offering a safer option to quit smoking. While in recent days he said that a working group will be set up to analyze whether e-cigarettes can be legalized for smokers seeking an alternative to help them quit.
Thailand’s Health Ministry resists lifting the ban
However a few months later all hopes were crushed when the local health ministry advised against lifting it. “The continued ban on all types of electronic cigarettes used for vaping will “help protect non-smokers from health hazards,” said Health Ministry Perm-Sec Kiattipoom Wongrachit at a recent meeting of the government’s tobacco board. “The ban on the sale of e-cigarettes is an important measure to protect children from victimization,” he added.
Subsequently this position was confirmed when speaking at a national conference on cigarettes and public health, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul stressed the importance of keeping the products banned. He said that over 80,000 vapers in Thailand are aged 15–24.
Experts: Tobacco Harm Reduction is Key to Reduce Asia’s Smoke-Related Deaths