Thailand is at a crossroads when it comes to the use and sale of e-cigarettes and other smoke-free nicotine products.
On the one hand, it is a kingdom that has a ban in place for products of this type, but many believe that this is directly contributing to the large number of smokers within the country.
On the other hand, some advocacy groups point to the continuity of blanket bans, with the idea that more nicotine-based products are the last thing they need.
Consumer advocacy group, ENDS Cigarette Smoke Thailand, wants decision makers to take the lead of Hong Kong and reconsider this ban. They are pointing towards research which indicates that vapes may be a good way to reduce overall smoking and that they may even be healthier.
The Global Burden of Disease Study of the World Health Organization estimated that over seven million people died prematurely in 2018 due to smoking.
Asa Ace Saligupta, who runs the group, stated: “The Hong Kong experience sets forward a good example of listening to opinions and engaging all parties involved, including the public sector—something that the policymakers in Thailand have avoided so far.”
Saligupta added:“Instead of using electronic cigarettes as a tool to create fear by creating a discourse on children and youth or Covid-19, we want to call on the Thai government to set up an independent committee to seriously study the science, commercial aspects, and regulatory framework for electronic cigarettes like Hong Kong and many other countries.”
Saligupta believes that finding a safer alternative to traditional smoking should be considered by anti-smoking campaigners. It is his view that their current perspective is narrowed by a view that abstinence is the only answer.
Concern has also been expressed over the possibility of blackmarket trading of vapes if they remain banned by the Thai government.
“This has created other problems such as the smuggling of non-standard and therefore uncontrolled products into the country, thereby depriving the rights of users of electronic cigarettes and leading to the inability to control the access of youth to these products,” he added.