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April 6, 2022
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Thailand: Powerful Interests Want to Maintain Vape Prohibition

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Jim McDonald

Powerful interests within the government of Thailand are urging that the country reject the efforts of one cabinet minister to legalize and regulate nicotine vaping products, and instead reconfirm the country’s ban on sales and import of e-cigarettes. Thailand’s vape ban has been in place since 2014, and has occasionally resulted in sensationally overzealous enforcement.

The National Tobacco Products Control Committee said it would advise the cabinet to uphold the ban in a meeting last week, according to The Nation Thailand. The committee's position is supported by Public Health Ministry permanent secretary Kiattiphum Wongrajit. However, the full cabinet (or Council of Ministers), which controls the Thai government's executive branch, will make the final decision.

The tobacco committee said that Thailand, as a signatory to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), should maintain the ban to prevent cigarette addiction by children and adolescents, according to The Nation Thailand. The FCTC doesn’t require member countries to ban vaping products, but generally supports prohibition and strict regulation.

The Thai Department of Disease Control issued a 9-point handout in Jan 2022, on why Thailand must maintain the ban on their import and sale.

The points are either:

Factually erroneous

Devoid of any comparison to relative risk

Or both.

— INNCOorg (@INNCOorg) April 4, 2022

The state-run Tobacco Authority of Thailand controls tobacco production and sales in the Southeast Asian country. Many countries with government-owned tobacco industries have passed restrictions or bans of e-cigarettes, which compete with state-sponsored cigarette sales that produce important tax revenue.

Minister of Digital Economy and Society Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn has urged the government to end its ban on vapes, which he believes offer a low-risk alternative for smokers. The cabinet minister's position inspired panicky opposition from tobacco control and public health groups, most of which strictly follow the advice of the WHO and the Bloomberg Philanthropies-funded tobacco control groups that urge bans.

Thanakamanusorn announced in January he would set up a working group to study the issue and consider public opinion.

Despite Thailand’s strict laws, spotty enforcement has allowed a vaping product black market to flourish. The country also boasts capable vaping advocates in consumer group ECST.

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Jim McDonald

Vaping since: 12 years

Favorite products:

Favorite flavors: RY4-style tobaccos, fruits

Expertise in: Political and legal challenges, tobacco control haters, moral panics

Jim McDonald

Smokers created vaping without help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and I believe vapers have the right to continue innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I’m a member of the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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