Anti-smoking camp praises e-ciggies crackdown bill

Anti-tobacco activists have praised the Public Health Ministry’s efforts to amend the tobacco control act to bring e-cigarettes and baraku under its regulatory framework and raise the legal age for buying cigarettes to 20.

The activists, led by Saichol Sontat, yesterday submitted a letter supporting the amendment bill to Pornpan Bunyarattapan, the chairman of the National Reform Council’s committee on health reform. 

He said he gives his full support to the Public Health Ministry, which is now proposing the bill to the cabinet and the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for consideration.

Up to 1.67 million youths are now addicted to cigarettes, Mr Saichol said. Cigarette smoking causes 140 deaths every day, or 50,701 deaths every year. 

Under the amendment, the definition of tobacco products would be expanded to cover new smoking items, including e-cigarettes and baraku. 

The bill would also change the definition of tobacco adverts to include new forms of marketing, particularly the use of female product presenters, known as “pretties”. 

The sales of cigarettes would also be banned for people younger than 20 years. The current legal age is 18. 

Additionally, online tobacco sales would be banned, and it would become illegal to sell cigarettes individually. State agencies could not be sponsored by tobacco firms, according to the bill.

Lakana Temsirikulchai, director of the centre for human resource development in tobacco control and deputy chairwoman of the National Alliance for Tobacco Free Thailand, said the bill is about to be forwarded to the NLA. 

She rejected claims made opponents, including tobacco farmers, who say the tough law could slash the number of smokers and stunt tobacco sales. Ms Lakana said two-thirds of domestically harvested tobacco is exported, which shows their income depends more on the global market, not on law changes passed here. 

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