With around two out of every five Thai males at risk of smoking related illnesses, it is no surprise to see advocacy groups lobbying for a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.
One such group, ENDS Cigarette Smoke Thailand, has requested that the government follow the lead of their Hong Kong counterparts and consider removing the existing ban on e-cigarettes.
This group is being led by Asa Ace Saligupta, who is pushing decision makers to consider studies that show vaping and other non-smoke producing nicotine products can be a safer alternative.
His group has sighted a study which states that over 40 percent of Thai smokers are not considering quitting, while 20 percent have had an unsuccessful attempt at stopping in the past.
He believes that this is because the only methods being put forward for quitting are traditional and ignore the options of vaping and other non-smoke alternatives being used.
Saligupta is pointing towards countries, such as Sweden, Norway and Japan, that saw a reduction in smoking when the option of alternative electric products were presented to the public.
According to this group, the blanket ban is shutting down any potential conversation on the benefits of vaping.
They are urging the research relating to this to be examined, stating that they 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.”
Saligupta added that the overall ban may also result in a blackmarket for vaping products, adding: “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 electric cigarettes and leading to the inability to control the access of youth to these products.”
The benefits of e-cigarettes compared with traditional cigarettes is still not fully understood, but the latter don’t contain tobacco which is widely known as being harmful, but unfortunately it isn’t just the tobacco in traditional cigarettes that causes cancer and other deadly diseases. Traditional cigarettes contain a plethora of chemicals that are proven harmful, and e-cigarettes have some of these same chemicals as well so the debate as to whether they are actually less harmful is still in the air.
The increasing popularity of e-cigarette products also appears to be “re-normalising” smoking, which has been in a steady decline for years. These gains did not come easy, reversing these would be globally catastrophic. It’s worth noting that smoking is still the leading and preventable cause of death.