E-cigarettes are widely used in some countries by smokers as a quitting aid or as an alternative to tobacco smoking. Overseas travelers to Thailand are being warned to leave their e-cigarettes at home before visiting or risk being sent to a Thai prison for up to 10 years. Thailand is not the only country in Asia that has implemented a law against 'vaping' with Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam having also outlawed the importation and sale of e-cigarettes.
Smokers of these electronic gadgets could face a heavy fine or up to ten years imprisonment if found guilty. The United Kingdom (UK) Foreign Office have reported a number of British Nationals have been arrested for possession of vaporizers and e-cigarettes.
Thailand approved the legislation outlawing the importation of e-cigarettes into the country in November 2014 and many tourists to the region are unaware of the risk if caught in possession of these devices. Since that time the legislation has been further expanded to the export and sale of e-cigarette devices and equipment. Although it is not uncommon to see people vaping in Thailand, they are knowingly or completely ignorant of the fact they are breaking the law as possession is illegal.
The Bangkok Post reported in November 2014 the 'Tobacco Products Control Act' - Thailand's primary law on tobacco merchandise imposed a ban on most forms of tobacco advertising and promotion that has been in force since 1992. The implementation does not seem to be able to stop some tobacco goods being popularized and sold, both online and underground - especially electronic tobacco smoking devices.
The deputy government spokesman in Thailand, Major Geneneral Sansern Kaewkamnerd said the decision approving the ban proposed by the Commerce Ministry was made for health reasons, with the Public Health Ministry originally suggesting a ban as they had determined the items were luring young people into smoking.
Ms. Pat Waterton, travel agent and manager at Langley Travel based in the United Kingdom told Travel Weekly Magazine UK she will be warning all her clients about this little-known law after her nephew was arrested and fined USD$160 / GBP£125 / $AU205 after being threatened with jail for smoking an e-cigarette while holidaying in Bangkok.
Ms. Waterman stated:
'I got a message from my sister saying James had been arrested in Thailand because he had an e-cigarette. He managed to pay the policeman, who had told him he could go to jail. Ten years seems a long time to go to prison for smoking an e-cigarette. If I’m selling Thailand as a destination, I will definitely mention it now. All agents should. Thailand is very popular so we should make sure we are telling people about things that could ruin a holiday.