“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,” says Asa Saligupta, Director of ECST (ENDS Cigarette Smoke Thailand).
“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,” says Mr Saligupta
He says Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) advocates and consumer groups such as ECST are working with government officials. Together, with public health experts, they 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 says most politicians and the public remain supportive of lifting the country’s failed vaping 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,” he says.
ECST says the likes of ThaiHealth have sadly got into the ear of the Public Health Minister.
“Any claim that driving vaping underground will protect the youth is absolute rubbish. The way to protect young people is to introduce strict regulation to kill off a lot of the black market, deliver a minimum purchase age, and introduce product safety standards. That’s how you protect the youth,” says Mr Saligupta.
ECST says smoking kills about 50,000 Thai people every year.
“If we want to substantially reduce smoking-related illnesses and premature deaths, we must lift Thailand’s harsh ban and penalties on vape products. It’s simply not working. As many countries have proven, it’s time to stop listening to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) anti-vape campaign,” he says.
In fact, nearly 70 countries have now adopted regulatory frameworks on safer nicotine products, leading to dramatic declines in their overall smoking rates.
“As a reformed smoker, vaping has saved my life. I and other THR advocates are not giving up – it’s just too important. Legal and regulated access to e-cigarettes is long overdue. This is life and death public policy,” says Asa Saligupta.
ECST is a member of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates).
“Thailand will get there thanks to the sheer weight of scientific evidence and the hard work of THR advocates like ECST. They’ve been incredibly patient, but that will run out if the next government ignores the experts and widespread public opinion. Thailand’s smokers must have a legalised, safer alternative,” says Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA.