Thailand does not intend to legalize e-cigarettes and is ready to further tighten controls on their sale in the country
Anutin Charnvirakun, head of Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, said his ministry does not support the legalization of e-cigarettes. The minister voiced his position at a meeting of the governing board of the Thai Health Development Foundation on April 25. The meeting was devoted to the regulation of tobacco products, including those that do not contain tobacco.
Speaking at the meeting of the council, which he as minister chairs, Mr. Charnvirakun said he sees the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among young people in Thailand and has also seen attempts on their part to get e-vaporizers and e-liquids legalized, the Bangkok Post reported.
“The ministry will not support the legalization of e-cigarettes [if such a proposal is made],” the health minister cut off.
On the contrary, Charnvirakun advocated stronger controls on alternative methods of using nicotine-containing products. According to the Minister, a special panel of the Department of Disease Control should examine the current regulations and determine whether the existing rules need to be revised or supplemented with new ones. However, he noted that, in principle, Thailand’s existing legal framework is sufficient to combat the trafficking of e-cigarettes.
“The department has also been instructed to work with the police to develop measures to prevent the increased popularity of e-cigarettes in Thailand in the future,” the health minister said.
Second Vice Chairman of the Health Development Foundation, Dr. Surachet Satitniramai, also pointed out that businesses are now trying to get e-cigarettes imported into Thailand legalized, a concern for many of his organization’s members. However, they are not the only ones concerned.
“Legalizing e-cigarettes would have a big effect on Thai tobacco farmers, because the raw material for e-cigarettes is not made of tobacco but chemicals, farmers would lose income. It will also affect public health and the government’s economic development plans in the agricultural sector,” said Satitniramai.
Because e-cigarettes are a relatively new product, the long-term effects of nicotine use in this way have not been studied either in Thailand or abroad. Proponents of vaping point out that vapor (unlike smoke) contains no tar or combustion products. Opponents respond by saying that tobacco is natural, unlike chemical nicotine liquids. However, all experts agree that the best option is the third one – not to smoke at all.
Smoking is the leading risk factor leading to death and disability in Thailand, according to a study by Thai scientists published in 2019 in BMC Series. The authors of the scientific paper claim that tobacco is involved in one way or another in the deaths of 50,000 Thai citizens each year, many times more than deaths from COVID-19. Globally, the death of every second smoker is somehow linked to the fact that he was using nicotine.
At the same time, the Royal College of Physicians in the UK in its own work comparing vaping and smoking came to the conclusion that electronic cigarettes are 95% safer than regular cigarettes. The reason is reflected in the title of the paper, which is titled as follows: “Nicotine Without Smoking: Reducing the Harms of Tobacco.”
“The health risks arising from long-term inhalation of the vapor of electronic cigarettes now available are unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm caused by smoking tobacco,” the British experts say. In doing so, they point out that smoking is the largest avoidable cause of death and disability in the UK. The paper was released in 2016.
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