“Thailand has banned vaping more times than a new vaper dry burns their wicks. Each time the fresh ban has been accompanied by stark warnings. This changed in 2018 when the government actually did ban all vape products and locked up people transgressing the legislation,” we wrote in 2018.
Warning signs were showing in the lead up to the change. The UK Foreign office had been warning vapers since 2017 that, “You can’t bring vaporisers (like e-cigarettes) or refills into Thailand. 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.”
The following year, Dutch 80’s pop star Gerard Jan Joling was arrested after a gig at a bar in Pattaya. The sound engineer was the only one vaping, but the entire party was escorted to the local police cells – only to be released after paying a fine of over £800.
Ends Cigarette Smoke Thailand (ECST) told Planet of the Vapes that the push to ban vaping and criminalise vapers was rooted in the bogus work of Stanton Glantz. “The result of the research that suggested that the use of E-cigarette on a regular basis can double the chance of coronary disease; is a distorted information and does not follow the correct research procedure due to the bias of the researcher.
“The Medical Journal of the American Heart Association has therefore retracted the research from its publication giving the reason that its conclusions are unreliable. This reflects the dangers of referencing and misusing of inaccurate information from researches by the anti-tobacco associations in Thailand. It also raises questions whether the public can trust the information provided by these organisations.
“Anti-smoking associations or the Ministry of public health often present only one-sided, negative information, which had caused chaos and panic for the public especially among smokers who had changed from smoking conventional cigarettes to e-cigarettes because they want to reduce the risks for themselves.”
Now ECST has met with The Office of the Ombudsman. Asa Saligupta and Maris Karanyawat also met with the Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Centre, the Ministry of Public Health, the Office of the Consumer Protection Board, Department of Disease Control, and the Department of Foreign Trade.
Saligupta said: “The current ban on e-cigarettes is a violation of the people’s right to access safer alternative products and accurate information about e-cigarettes. We have requested justice from the Office of the Ombudsman to provide fairness to e-cigarette users in the country. We are glad that the Ombudsman remains an institution that the people in suffering can depend on in finding a just and transparent solution to the problem.”
The organisation estimates that over half a million Thai vapers currently use a secretive black market to source their supplies.