Thailand: 4 men face prison for selling vapes

In Thailand, selling e-cigs can get you 10 years and massive fines


Police raided a condominium last week in Hat Yai, Thailand, and arrested four men for selling banned vaping products. Two of the men were Thai, and two were Malaysian.

The police also seized about $29,000 worth of vaping gear and e-liquid. They were responding to an anonymous tip, according to a Bangkok Post story.

The Post story said that the seized products were “three e-cigarettes, 3,201 bottles of e-cigarette solution and 122 atomizers.” The police claim that the products were smuggled into the country, and sold to customers who placed orders through Facebook.

Now four men sit in prison for the crime of offering smokers a safer choice.

The four men who were arrested ranged in age from 21 to 26. They were charged with “illegally selling electronic cigarettes and liquid.” Sales, import and export of e-cigarettes are illegal in Thailand. According to Tobacco Asia, violators can get up to a 10-year prison sentence, and a fine equal to five times the value of the confiscated products.

Last fall, the Post reported that the government was considering a change to the law, and possibly allowing e-cigs to be sold. But apparently that initiative hasn’t gone anywhere. Now four men sit in prison for the crime of offering smokers a safer choice.

Jim McDonald
I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.
  • Brian Scott

    We were planning a trip to Thailand next year. Sadly, with this information we’ll be forced to chose another destination. It boggles the mind how much resistance is mounted against products that are shown to greatly mitigate the very real risks associated with smoking.

    • Jim McDonald

      May I suggest that you let them know about your decision? Perhaps e-mail the tourist board and explain that you don’t spend your money in countries that persecute people for making healthier choices.

    • Phil Lowney

      It’s nothing to do with that, vaping equipment is not taxed. Buying and selling is seen as tax evasion. Do some balanced research (ie not opionated hearsay on other forums) regarding visitors taking their own equipment into the country.

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  • Phil Lowney

    If it helps, I went to Thailand in April, fearing the worst I left my vaping gear at home. I’d read about illegal sales of vaping gear near Nana BTS in Bangkok. I just happened to meet a Kiwi at the stall who had brought his own stuff in without hassle and was after some juice. I was in need of a vape! I bought a couple of units and 3 x10 bottles of liquid from the stall by Nana station.

    I took two internal flights, between travelling to Koh Phanang and back, and the return flight home. I had them in my hand luggage, placed openly in the tray with other electronic devices and in full view for customs officials to see. They didn’t seem bothered.

    I read that it is illegal to buy (I took a risk) or sell, but visitors can take their own equipment in for personal use only. If you took half a dozen box mods and 40 bottles of juice they might assume you intended to sell and you’d have problems. Unless the law has changed since April, or I’ve missed something, if you’re sensible and respect their laws I think you would be OK. Oh and don’t try to impress the locals with big clouds or you could also draw attention to yourself. Big clouds ANYWHERE other than in private are only going to alienate vapers.

    There seems to be a lot of ill informed opinions around from a bunch of Noddy’s who read about £10,000 fines and 5 year in jail sentences and before you know it, according to them, you’ll be stopped at immigration and thrown in the slammer.

    It’s worth doing proper research before every trip

    • Jim McDonald

      Glad to hear your experience. As noted in the article, sales, import and export are illegal — not use. However, that’s of little comfort to the people in jail for doing nothing but offering a product that helps smokers avoid smoking.

      Black and gray markets may work for some people already knowledgeable about the products. But most smokers won’t jump through quasi-legal hoops to try vaping, knowing that sales are banned. They’ll just keep smoking.

      • Phil Lowney

        My post wasn’t to comment about the Thai authorities or the four men in jail, one thing is for sure, the Thais would not welcome foreign interference in internal affairs. I sympathise with the guys but they were aware that they were breaking their laws and got caught. My post was merely to share my personal experience of taking vaping gear through immigration in Thailand, for those people who might choose not to visit the country because they feel that thhey cannot take their gear in.

        • Jim McDonald

          Oh, I know! I didn’t mean to sound like I was criticizing you. I appreciate hearing from someone who’s actually been to the country.

          • Phil Lowney

            No worries, wasn’t taken as such. Furthermore my partner is Thai & when she first saw me vaping (discretely) in public over there her concern was not that I might get arrested, but that she’d seen story on the internet about a guy who’d blown a hole in his face.

  • vic ashby

    ‘four men sit in prison for the crime of offering smokers a safer choice.’

    Do you write for the daily mail

    Its against the law there, simple as that

    • Jim McDonald

      The law is unjust. I oppose unjust laws. Most vapers oppose this law. This is a website for vapers.

      • vic ashby

        I understand your position. I am fairly neutral on vaping as a whole.

        I am quite a new vaper and at the moment am looking for some honest answers or opinions to health issues etc. I dont want to become a long term vaper, I turned to it after 5 months of giving up smoking following a few cravings.

        I see it as a less harmful, less offensive version of smoking but I dont think it is without pain, just less of it and at the moment should be classified alongside smoking.

        I am looking to cut it out after a few months and keep the unit on standby for my weak moments

        The article seems sensationalist and will only appeal to very pro vapers, like the guy who will change his holiday destination because of your article. Im still not sure if he is for real or not. Im sure they will be gutted when he emails them.

        The way I read your article is that a group of guys smuggle some contraband for financial gain and get caught and go to prison.
        I agree that it is a stupid law but the world is full of them. Sat Nav is illeagal in parts of the U.S.(i think)

        I want to read honest balanced material so I can assess the potential risks to my actions but I may have stumbled into the wrong place

        • Phil Lowney

          If you were seeking a medical opinion regarding vaping then yes you probably have stumbled into the wrong place. Ultimately only you can be held responsible for your actions, unless you’re looking for somone to litigate against if it turns out it all goes wrong for you. I doubt that laboratories full of vaping mice or monkeys exist, so who knows? I won’t offer an opinion as to whether vaping is healthier than smoking, I don’t have the evidence.

  • Brian Coe

    But Thailand are quite happy to sell IQOS and PMI will be happy with this news story no doubt.