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Digital Minister Petitions for Legalization of E-Cigarettes

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Thailand’s tech minister petitioned the National Tobacco Products Control Committee to consider revising its ban on the import and sales of e-cigarettes.

Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn said research in 70 countries has shown that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes and that their sale has been subsidized by their governments.

If the government allows the legal import and sale of e-cigarettes, it will be able to set selling standards and benefit from a tobacco tax.

The minister claimed that e-cigarettes have the potential to protect young people from smoking and that a better course of action would be to regulate them in the same way that cigarettes are regulated, with no advertising or online sales.

He also proposed strict laws governing the minimum selling age, as well as quality controls on the products themselves, to ensure that they meet international standards.

Chaiwut’s crusade for e-cigs puts him squarely at odds with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who said last week he “would never support” e-cig legalization. He insisted the government won’t legalize e-cigarettes as long as he’s in office.

According to a survey conducted by the National Statistical Office in 2021, approximately 10 million Thais smoke, with 52% saying they are unlikely to quit. The minister believes that if these people are provided with accurate information about e-cigarettes or other alternatives, they will be more likely to quit smoking.