Recent arrests have again shown that Thailand is serious about its ban on vaping products. The Southeast Asian country prohibits sales and importation of e-cigarettes and e-liquid. Now it is apparently enforcing restrictions on possession too.
On Dec. 10, Thai police arrested a well-known internet personality, and charged her with possession of an e-cigarette and “vaping liquid,” according to the Bangkok Post. Manussaya Yaowarat (apparently known professionally as Flukesri Maneedeng) said that she was arrested after police found the vaping products in her friend’s car after stopping it early Sunday morning.
She claims that she was assaulted by police officers, who placed her in a headlock and grabbed her hair. The police say she was “arguing loudly” so they were taking her to a jail cell to “calm down.” They claim that she resisted, so more police were brought in to “help overpower her.” Police are considering whether to charge her with “insulting officials performing their duty,” according to the Post. She was released on bail.
This was all for possession of an e-cigarette.
Two days later a young couple was arrested and charged with illegally selling vapes over Facebook. Sivanut Poonpol, 25, and his girlfriend, Natthanicha Duangthong, 23, were caught in a parking lot in Khlong Luang district in Central Thailand.
Police seized 40 vaping devices and 3,500 bottles of e-liquid from their apartment and a separate warehouse. According to the Post, they confessed to selling the products via two Facebook pages. They claimed that most of their customers are students.
The couple has been charged with selling goods prohibited by the Office of the Consumer Protection Board and smuggling prohibited goods into the country.
Thailand, the land of government cigarette monopoly
Earlier this year we reported on four men who were arrested in a raid on their home, and charged with “illegally selling electronic cigarettes and liquid.” 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.
In August a Swiss vaper who had brought his own products into Thailand for personal use was charged with “importation” of vapes.
Later that month, we reported on a British government website that advised travelers to Thailand to leave their vapes at home when traveling to the “land of smiles.” The U.K. foreign travel website doesn’t mince words when explaining the risk.
“You can’t bring vaporisers…or refills into Thailand,” says the site. “These items are likely to be confiscated and you could be fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted. The sale or supply of e-cigarettes and similar devices is also banned and you could face a heavy fine or up to 5 years imprisonment if found guilty. Several British Nationals have been arrested for possession of vaporisers and e-cigarettes.”
The last-mentioned Vaping360 article contains a lot of interesting comments from reader Phil Lowney about his personal experiences in Thailand.
The Thailand Tobacco Monopoly is a government-owned tobacco manufacturer that makes 19 cigarette brands. The income to Thailand’s coffers from the government-run enterprise is considerable — it had more than $1.5 billion in sales in 2009 — and it is protected zealously.