BANGKOK: Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul insists that the Ministry of Public Health does not support the legalization of electronic cigarettes in the country.
A staff displays e-cigarettes, their chemical flavors and other related materials before a press briefing by the Consumer Protection Police Division on January 27, 2021. Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb
He made his remarks yesterday (25 Apr) during a meeting with board members of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) to discuss tobacco control.
Anutin, in his capacity as chairman of the board of ThaiHealth, said that he noticed that e-cigarettes are in trend among teenagers and that some of them aim to legalize the sale, reports the Bangkok Post.
“The ministry does not support the legalization of e-cigarettes,” he said.
To help strengthen e-cigarette control, Anutin said he has assigned a tobacco control panel under the Department of Disease Control (DDC) to review current regulations to determine whether they should be revised or new rules.
However, current laws may still suppress the quality of e-cigarettes, he said.
“The DDC has also been ordered to coordinate with the police to come up with a solution to prevent e-cigarettes from becoming more popular in the future,” he said.
Dr. Surachet Satitniramai, second vice president of ThaiHealth, said that currently, many business operators are trying to legalize the importation of e-cigarettes into the country, which is a topic of concern among committee members.
“E-cigarettes will have a widespread effect on tobacco growers in the country,” he said. “Since the materials of e-cigarettes do not consist of tobacco, but chemicals, farmers suffer a loss of income.
“It also affects [public] health and the government’s plan to drive the economy for agricultural groups,” he added.
Nicotine-based e-cigarettes come in a wide range of flavors. Many of them provide amped-up forms of nicotine beyond what traditional cigarettes contain.
Unfortunately, the popularity of these products has exceeded the rules and supervision, which leaves most of their ingredients a mystery.
E-cigarettes are still relatively new, so the facts about the short- and long-term health effects of inhaling the chemicals they contain are just beginning to emerge.
According to New York University researchers, the use of e-cigarettes doubled the risk of erectile dysfunction in men aged 20 and over.
However, the effects of cigarette smoking are well established.
Smoking is the leading risk factor for early death and disability in the country, and nearly 50,000 Thais die from tobacco use each year – far greater than the death rate from COVID-19.
Worldwide, about half of smokers die from a smoking-related disease.
According to the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom, the use of e-cigarettes is 95% safer than smoking cigarettes. “The health hazard arising from long-term vapor inhalation from electronic cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from tobacco smoke,” he said in a report.