The debate on legalising e-cigarettes in Thailand continues. Now the country's Minister of Economy and Social Affairs wants to make vaping an election issue, reports the Bangkok Post newspaper.
"I will pursue the issue of decriminalisation in the upcoming elections" says Social Affairs Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn.
E-cigarettes have been illegal to sell, import and use in Thailand for many years. It is currently unclear how many Thais still use vapes. According to statistics, there are about 80,000 users; the number of unreported cases outside the official statistics is probably high, according to the authorities.
"We must stop pretending that the ban on weapons and guns is working. We certainly haven't solved the problem," says Minister of Social Affairs. Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn i Bangkok Post.
Tourist sentenced to a fine
According to the newspaper, the issue of weighing was recently raised after a famous actor who was travelling in Pattaya found herself in trouble. She was stopped by the police after vaping in public, an incident that ended with a fine. suspected bribery of the equivalent of 10 000 Swedish kronor. In the debate that followed the incident, calls for legalisation became increasingly clear.
"In all countries where e-cigarettes are banned, people find ways to both sell and obtain them. This is done in secret and in the worst cases leads to illegal activities and bribery. We see this development both online and in physical markets. Vaping has become part of many people's lives, despite the ban." says Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn.
Taxation is key
Instead, he argues that e-cigarettes should be made legal to both sell and use. Recently, despite the current ban, e-cigarettes were added to the list of taxable products, something Vejpkollen reported on. According to Mr Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, taxation is a key issue.
"The government should make sure to collect taxes on e-cigarettes. This is one of the main reasons for legalisation. In this way, sales can benefit the population", says Mr Perez. Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn.
WHO recommends a ban
According to the World Health Organisation, countries that do not actively regulate e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products should rather ban them. The WHO's recommendations have had an impact across much of Asia. This is especially true in countries where smoking rates are very high and governments have interests in tobacco production.
The WHO's approach to vaping has been repeatedly criticised by health professionals and researchers around the world. Just last year, the use of e-cigarettes illegal in 40 countries while the products are illegal to sell but authorised for use in 32 countries.
Previous attempts failed
Minister of Social Affairs Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn has also at a proposed legalisation on a previous occasion of e-cigarettes. On that occasion, the proposal was voted down in Parliament.
Thailand is one of the countries with the most Swedes living abroad, more than in Sweden's neighbours Denmark and Finland. Every year 120,000 Swedes travel to the country for tourism.