The End Cigarette Smoke Thailand (ECST) Group cited England’s initiative to hand out free vaping kits, calling it an effective way to help save smokers’ lives and prevent children from accessing e-cigarettes.
This came after England announced its plan to allot 45 million pounds for the vaping kit distribution campaign, which is meant to reduce the country’s smoking rate. An additional 3 million pounds was allotted for efforts to clamp down on shops selling e-cigarettes to minors. Meanwhile, in Thailand, e-cigarettes are still banned, driving the product towards the black market and unregulated use.
ECST hopes that the new government from the 2023 election will earnestly reconsider the e-cigarette policy in order to legalize vaping and keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors.
Asa Saligupta, a representative of the End Cigarette Smoke Thailand (ECST) group and the Facebook page “What are e-cigarettes?”, which has over 100,000 followers, said that, “E-cigarettes are legal in England, allowing its government to impose measures and effectively enforce the regulations to protect minors. The UK government is set to allot 45 million pounds (approximately 1.921 billion baht) for a free vaping kit campaign to reduce the country’s smoking rate and another 3 million pounds (approximately 127 million baht) for clamping down on shops selling vapes to youths under the age of 18.”
The measure came to light when the UK health minister announced that over one million people would be offered free vaping kits to encourage them to give up harmful conventional cigarettes and switch to electronic cigarettes.
The project, which is dubbed as “Swap to Stop”, will cost 45 million pounds. The government has committed to getting the smoking rate in England below 5% by 2030. The health minister emphasized that shops are required to verify the buyer of e-cigarettes are at least 18 years of age and announced an “illicit vapes enforcement squad”, which can exercise the power to shut down shops selling e-cigarettes illegally. The squad will carry out inspections across the country as well as make test purchases at convenience and vape shops. It will also issue guidance on how to ensure the shops comply with the laws.
“Meanwhile in Thailand, e-cigarettes have been banned for eight consecutive years; yet the smoking rate is still at around 17.4% and has barely decreased. The ban is claimed to be a measure to protect minors but the sales and use of e-cigarettes are overt and commonplace. Children can easily access e-cigarettes through online channels without any regulations or inspections. Despite widespread news coverage that e-cigarettes are as harmful as conventional cigarettes, their popularity has steadily increased. This shows that the legal measure of banning them has failed all along,” Asa added.
Maris Karanyawat, another ECST representative, added that “The subcommittee for studying factors affecting the health system and monitoring the enforcement of public health laws issued a report, which is based on a comprehensive study and opinions of all groups involved in the e-cigarette issue. The report suggests that Thailand should lift the ban on e-cigarettes so that they can be appropriately controlled through the 2017 Tobacco Products Control Act. This solution will solve the problem effectively at its root and generate more revenue for the country. We hope that when we have a new government, e-cigarette legalization will be seriously carried out and the Thai e-cigarette policy will be more consistent with international practices and scientific evidence. Only then will we be able to reduce harmful effects on smokers’ health and protect the children.”
“In November, the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control will take place in Panama. We hope that the Thai delegates will take into account the public health committee’s report, which recommends that a tobacco harm reduction approach be developed based on new scientific evidence which shows that e-cigarettes should be controlled differently from combustible cigarettes because they have different harmful effects. This is to ensure that 9.9 million Thais will be less exposed to toxic chemicals.” Maris concluded.