Mr. Surachet Samarnchan, an esteemed educator from Khlong Pansarit Pittaya School, took center stage during the inaugural ceremony, delivering a thought-provoking discourse at Ban Sai Thai Police Station Hospital in Muang District, Krabi Province. The focus of his address: the conspicuous absence of e-cigarette usage among the people of Mueang Krabi district.
Steering the conversation further, Ms. Panattiya Kaeo Nong Samet, an articulate representative of the Non-Smoking Campaign Foundation, expressed their firm commitment to a harmonious collaboration with Krabi Province’s Tobacco Control Network. Their collective mission? To spearhead a robust campaign aimed at staunching the proliferation of e-cigarettes among children and youth—an urgent priority. The accelerated diffusion of the e-cigarette epidemic, particularly among the younger demographic, has galvanized action. With a zealous media network and radio station lending continuous support, the endeavor is focused on instilling a non-smoking ethos within Thai society.
In line with these endeavors, a groundbreaking initiative, the Krabi People Project, has emerged. Encompassing a timeframe from May 15, 2023, to August 14, 2023, this project endeavors to cultivate heightened consciousness regarding the perils posed by e-cigarettes among the youth.
Ms. Panattiya further highlighted Thailand’s regulatory stance. Since 2014, the Ministry of Commerce has decreed e-cigarettes, hookahs, and electronic hookahs as prohibited commodities for importation into the Kingdom. The proclamation of Order No. 9/2558 by the Consumer Protection Board reinforced these restrictions, categorically disallowing the sale or distribution of e-cigarettes, electronic hookahs, and their associated products. Alas, despite these stringent regulations, the accessibility conundrum persists—e-cigarettes still find their way into the hands of consumers, both through direct means and online platforms.
Adding a layer of complexity, the tobacco industry has pursued a policy to repeal the aforementioned statutes. This move is rooted in a global trend observed across various nations. Countries that have allowed the unfettered sale of e-cigarettes have grappled with a surge in usage among children and youth, compelling many to backtrack and enact bans. The year 2021 saw a pertinent survey by the National Statistical Office, revealing that 78,742 individuals in Thailand partake in e-cigarette use, constituting a mere 0.14% of the population aged 15 and above—out of a total populace of 57 million. Within this group, 40,724 individuals are daily users, while 38,018 use e-cigarettes sporadically. Notably, 24,050 users fall within the age bracket of 15 to 24.
The situation becomes more acute when focusing on children and youth. Open and overt e-cigarette use has become a distressing norm. Should the legislation inhibiting e-cigarette sales be rescinded, it could pave the way for a more severe epidemic among this impressionable demographic.