Planet of the Vapes has been covering the state of flux in Thailand for the last five years. During this time we’ve frequently announced new bans but disappointment greeted the draconian carpet banning that occurred in 2017.
Travel agents were being warned to advise travellers of restrictions. The UK Foreign Office still tells people planning on visiting Thailand that it’s not permitted to take mods, atomisers or eliquid into the country: “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” – but arriving with a carton of 200 cigarettes is absolutely fine.
Last year, Pat Waterton, an agent for Langley Travel, said: “I got a message from my sister saying James [her nephew] had been arrested in Thailand because he had an e-cigarette. He managed to pay the policeman [a ‘fine’ of £125], who had told him he could go to jail. Five years seems a long time to go to prison for smoking an e-cigarette.”
Attendees at this year’s Global Forum on Nicotine rated Thailand as the worst country in the world for vapers. Asa Ace Saligupta who runs Thailand’s End Cigarette Smoke Thailand consumer group said: “Thailand has a draconian approach with tourists as well as local people regularly getting arrested for vaping. Police often search vehicles at roadblocks for e-cigarettes and then use them to extract fines. This is not just terrible for Thai smokers who want to quit but also makes it a country to avoid for the tens of millions of tourists and business people around the world who vape.”
According to a recent report in the Bangkok Post, several embassies have complained to the government’s Excise Department. They are unhappy with foreign nationals being fined for entering the country with vape gear.
Director-general Patchara Anuntasilpa justified the fines by saying that his department had a duty to implement the legislation. But, in a press conference discussing the tax changes being applied to rolling tobacco, Patchara let slip an important detail.
The Excise Department is standing ready to implement a tax on vape products – banned products that carry the potential of a prison sentence. Patchara mentioned that he was waiting to hear the results of discussion taking place between the Public Health Department and the Commerce Department.
It will be the first time vapers welcome the imposition of a vape tax.