UK warns Thailand travelers: leave vapes home

Ten years in prison is a long sentence for avoiding cigarettes

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uk-warns-thai-traveler
1000 Words/Shutterstock.com

If you’re a vaper, don’t visit Thailand. Or at least don’t plan on taking your vape gear!

The British government is officially warning travelers to Thailand not to pack vapes when entering the country. The U.K. foreign travel website is very specific, noting that several U.K. residents have been arrested already.

“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.”

And now British travel agents are being advised to tell their customers about the ban. Pat Waterton of Langley Travel told the website Travel Weekly that her nephew was forced to pay an “on-the-spot fine” (also known as a bribe) to avoid being taken to jail on a recent trip to Bangkok.

“Thailand is a big destination for us and since the law has come into force about e-cigarettes we are incorporating the country’s customs and immigration information into all our customers’ itineraries,” Susan Papworth of Premier Holidays told Travel Weekly. “We haven’t seen any impact on bookings, but strongly advise that all agents pass on this advice to their customers.”

Four men were arrested in Thailand last month and charged with “illegally selling electronic cigarettes and liquid.” Sales, import and export of e-cigarettes are illegal in Thailand. The police said that the men were smuggling vapor products into the country, and selling to customers who placed orders through Facebook.

We also reported earlier this month on a Swiss vaper who was arrested in Thailand. He had only brought products for personal use, but that didn’t prevent the Thai government from charging him with “importation” of vapor products.

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.

  • Mark Allsopp

    Stupid Thais

    • Phil Lowney

      Stupid post.

  • Murray_B

    It would be much simpler to avoid going to Thailand at all. There is no way to know when they will start arresting people for some other irrational reason.

  • Phil Lowney

    My partner in Thailand phoned the ‘Tourist Police’ at the weekend to ask about the situation regarding westerners and vaping equipment in Thailand, and this is what she was told:

    A visitor can take one unit into the country and enough liquid (not a stupid excessive amount) for personal use. The unit must be dismantled in the hand luggage and the juice in a plastic bag (as with all liquid in the hand luggage). Visitors must not vape in public, or their equipment will be seized, and they could end up in jail.

    Where is the link to the page on the British Governnent website where this warning was issued? I’ve tried Googling it but can’t find it.

    • Jim McDonald

      The link is in the article, and works fine for me. It leads to the section for Thailand “local laws and customs.”

      • Phil Lowney

        Thank you, it worked in G Chrome – my IE has been playing up. So now we have something concrete, as opposed to highly emotive posts on vaping sites, which is quite often the case. People love to adopt the ‘victim’ status.

        I suspect this guy was blowing big ass clouds, and we don’t don’t know how much equipment “only products for personal use” is. I know some people who go through 30ml a day, which would appear to a non vaper to be a lot of juice..

        What outsiders don’t understand is that the Thais have been mourning the death of their King for nearly a year and and the time for his burial is drawing near. His death hit them hard – and they are not forced to mourn, unlike N Korea, they mourn out of genuine grief. He made sacrifices for his country, the people love and revere him and still refer to him as ‘My King, My Father’. Thailand has a culture of respect – something that is not understood in western society.

        I do wonder when are they likely to see someone’s equipment? I would imagine they were unlucky enough to be pulled and search as they go through customs. The contents of hand luggage is checked before a flight.

        I would give it a year or two and things will change. But those people who go on the moral rampage – do they really care a great deal about the health of the Thai people? It’s not our country – who are we to judge their laws?

        • Jim McDonald

          Are you saying it’s never appropriate for people to judge the laws or customs in another country? What about rules that violate basic human rights in a country that crushes opposing or popular views? A lot of people — like me — think that denying low-risk alternatives to smoking while encouraging cigarette sales demands that people speak out. Thailand’s government owns a tobacco company, by the way.
          http://www.euromonitor.com/tobacco-in-thailand/report

          • Phil Lowney

            It depends on your motives. Let’s face it, whether you genuinely feel concerned about the health of the Thais, or feel aggrieved as someone who just wants to visit Thailand, there are always more pressing human rights abuses in the world than someone’s right to vape.

          • Phil Lowney

            When I say ‘you’ I don’t mean you personally, it’s a generalisation.

          • Brian Scott

            So, it’s ok to criticize the U.S., Philippines, or Australia but not Thailand because they still have a monarch? Sorry, I disagree.

            Jailing people for vaping is wrong. Banning the sale of vapor products is wrong. This information helped our family decide not to go to Thailand next month.

            Also, I would like to see every smoker have access to vapor products. We know about the health benefits and harm reduction. So, yes, I genuinely care about the health of Thai people.

          • Jim McDonald

            Yeah, I do too. I think lots of vapers care about the health of smokers around the world.

          • Phil Lowney

            Erm, who, EXACTLY, said it’s not OK to criticise Thailand because they have a monarchy??? Get your facts right Sunny Jim, read the post properly before you go spouting off rubbish and making yourself look idiotic.

            OK, an update. My girlfriend who flew from the southern mainland to Bangkok asked the airport customs officials who said that foreigners’ vape equipment must be in hand luggage, one unit, dismantled and put in the tray with electronic items, coins etc. You simply mustn’t vape in public. She would not lie, she’s not very keen on me vaping because she’s only heard of people getting faces blown off.

          • Phil Lowney

            I’m sure the Thais will be devastated at your decision not to go next month!

          • Brian Scott

            Of course Thailand will not be devastated by our family choosing not to holiday there. I was pointing to the purpose of the information presented in this article and its actual effect upon me, the reader.

            If Thais were upset that we choose not to go to Thailand this year they can rest comfortably that Phil Lowney is on the case and explaining to people on a vaping site how Thai’s feel about vaping laws and the intricacies of Thai politics and culture.

            Thailand is lucky you found them.

          • Jim McDonald

            Fair enough. But since that’s the issue readers of this site would see highlighted, it’s likely to be the one discussed here. I see nothing wrong with tourists who want to vape voting with their money against Thailand. The government there is free to ignore vapers if they want to.

          • Phil Lowney

            Yes I get that. Saving face is part of Thai culture, the Government will want to be seen to make its own decisions, rather than bowing to foreign pressure. I think they will legalise vaping in some form at some point, but those visiting vapers who try showing off to the locals eith big ass clouds could ruin it for the rest of us. I suspect that is what the Swiss guy was doing despite his protests of innocence – people wil always try to push the envelope without understanding the culture or thinking about the knock on effects of their actions and the impacts on others. It is important that visitors understand the culture of far off places like Thailand, AND SHOW RESPECT FOR THE COUNTRY, THE LAWS AND THE PEOPLE while they are there, or they could ruin things for others intending to go out there.

    • Jim McDonald

      By the way, thanks for all your contributions to the discussions about Thailand. I appreciate hearing your experiences and thoughts.

  • Phil Lowney

    Here’s the latest, my partner who flew from the southern mainland yesterday to Bangkok, asked the customs officials at the airport about visitors taking vaping equipment on a flight. They told her the equipment must be in hand luggage, one unit only, dismantled and put in the tray with electronic items, coins etc., juice (not a stupid amount of – but individual interpretations of this will vary greatly) in a plastic bag in the tray. Mostly, hand luggage is checked is before leaving the country you are travelling from, so the only time your equipment will be seen by an official is when you leave the country.

  • chris

    Hello – I go to Thailand about 3 times a year and have for the past 10 years. Last time I went I took 8 x 100ml bottles of juice, two vapes, charger and a load of batteries. There’s loads of people vaping out there. Word on the street is tourists will be left alone, they’re just not into the Thais using them. I had it all looked at regularly at customs (as I traveled around). however, I was probably lucky. Juice is pretty easy to get in Thailand, I ran out and found a source in Phuket town that sold some banging Malaysian juice for very good prices. My advice? Break your kit up and use a box mod that looks like a battery charger. The Thai police won’t know what a box mod is, you just tell them its a phone charger, worked for me at Samui customs twice. My friend puts his ejuice in baby lotion and other ‘alternate’ bottles. But like I say, it;s quite easy to get if you ask about. Then when in Thailand, just don’t blow huge clouds in public. The Thai police will try and get money out of you for anything, so just be discreet. Don’t let this kind of thing put you off going to Thailand, it’s an incredible place with so much to offer. Carry your money in your shoe and have like $30 in your pocket, that will keep most Thai police happy should they decide to hassle you. be polite, let them know you know they’re the boss (no point acting tough, your aim is to get away asap, not to be the tough guy).

    • Phil Lowney

      Yes, my third visit this year also. Following my partner’s first answer from an official source, I ignored the British Government website. As preiously stated my hand luggage was checked at Birmingham airport, not when I came through customs Bangkok. Her second answer from customs staff at Don Meueng Airport confirmed it. I do not vape in public here, as I said previously, big ass clouds will appear to disrespect the law, and as Chris will affirm, this is a culture of respect. As the tourist police yold my other half will separate tank and the mod, and remove batteries, wen I go through security on leaving the country.

      I think we agree Chris, be discrete, and have respsect for the people, the culture, ans the laws, and you can vape in private. So there’s no need to get hot under the collar, jump up and down, and scream “boycott Thailand” after all 😊.

      I did notice last night the stall selling ilegal vaping gear was still there near the steps to Nana BTS, although the vendors stand well away from the stall.

    • Phil Lowney

      Yes, we went through Koh Samui on the way to Koh Phanang in April, from Suvarnabhumi and back, my vaping gear laid out with mobile phone, tablet, coins etc., they didn’t even blink.

    • Phil Lowney

      My advice, carrying money in your shoe is asking for trouble of you’ve got £2k or £3K and wear sandals most of the time, as I do!!!

    • Phil Lowney

      Yes, my third visit this year also. Following the information that my Thai partner provided after she phoned the Tourist Police, I ignored the British Government website. As previously stated my hand luggage was checked at Birmingham airport, not when I came through customs at Suvanabhumi. Her second answer from the customs staff at Don Meueng Airport confirmed it. I do not vape in public here, as I said previously, big ass clouds will appear to disrespectful – no-one wants to be reminded that they are breathing in air which has just been expelled from someone else’s lungs, and as I’m sure Chris will affirm, this is a culture of respect. As the tourist police told my other half, I will separate tank and the mod, and remove batteries, when I go through security on leaving the country.

      Chris’s advice pretty much echoes what my Thai partner has said, be discrete, and have respsect for the people, the culture, ans the laws, vape in private. So there’s no need to get hot under the collar, jump up and down, and  “boycott Thailand” after all 😊.

      I did notice last night the stall selling ilegal vaping gear was still there near the steps to Nana BTS, although the vendors stand well away from the stall. I suggest you don’t buy from there – if the police swoop you will be arrested for sure. Also, I purchased a mod from there earlier in the year before all this kicked off, and it only lasted a month.