“Legalising and regulating vaping will give Thailand greater control over youth vaping. The ongoing ban is only making it worse,” says Asa Saligupta, Director of ECST (ENDS Cigarette Smoke Thailand).
His comments follow recent statements by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul that continuing with Thailand’s vaping ban will protect the youth.
“Driving vaping underground only makes it more attractive to young people. Further, a total absence of regulatory control enables the black market to thrive with no product safety standards whatsoever. Vaping bans are not a solution nor are they sustainable,” says Mr Saligupta.
With draft legislation already available to Thailand’s parliament, the ECST Director remains confident that safer nicotine products will be regulated. He says most politicians and the public remain supportive of lifting the country’s failed vaping ban.
ECST notes that despite the Public Health Minister’s recent comments, the Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, government officials, and public health experts know exactly what needs to be done to address Thailand’s smoking epidemic.
“Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) advocates will keep quietly working behind the scenes. 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,” he says.
Mr Saligupta says sadly the Public Health Minister has been lobbied hard by the likes of Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth). ECST believes, however, there’s a real chance of the stalled vaping bill being passed after the general election expected later this year.
“Smoking kills about 50,000 Thai people every year. Continuing Thailand’s harsh ban and penalties on vape products will only mean more smoking-related illnesses and premature deaths. It’s crazy when legalising and regulating vaping now have widespread support across Thailand,” he says.
Ignoring the World Health Organization’s (WHO) anti-vape agenda, nearly 70 countries have now adopted regulatory frameworks on safer nicotine products, leading to dramatic declines in their overall smoking rates.
“All we ask is that Thailand follows the evidence. Unfortunately, our country sits among an increasingly isolated crowd which continue to follow the WHO’s totally discredited advice. In reality, vaping is the most successful smoking cessation tool we have and is miles safer than smoking cigarettes. As a reformed smoker, vaping has simply saved my life. Legal and regulated access to e-cigarettes is now well overdue,” says Asa Saligupta.
ECST is a member of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates). CAPHRA says Asia Pacific is making great strides in crushing tobacco and enabling smokers to switch to safer nicotine products.
“The Philippines has recently lifted its vaping ban, regulating the importation, manufacture, sale, and marketing of vaping products. Thailand will get there thanks to the sheer weight of scientific evidence and the hard work of THR advocates like ECST,” says Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA.
The Right2Switch petition urging the WHO to respect consumer rights and end its lies against vaping has now been signed by over 10,000 people. It can be viewed and signed at https://change.org/v4v-petition