ASEAN government officials, health advocates, and youth leaders collaborate towards protecting children from tobacco industry interference

Bangkok, 14 May 2024: More than seventy government officials, youth representatives, public health advocates, and media practitioners from the ten ASEAN countries gathered today in Bangkok, Thailand to strategise concrete actions to protect children from tobacco industry interference. 


The tobacco  and nicotine industry continues to target children and youth with electronic smoking devices marketed in the form of toys, school supplies, and confectionery. They also come in fun and fruity flavors.

Aligned with this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme, the regional workshop also features resource speakers from Hong Kong and Australia and aims to tackle key topics such as how governments can better protect children and youth from the tobacco industry, countering misinformation about electronic smoking devices (ESDs) spread on digital media, reducing attractiveness and accessibility of tobacco and recreational nicotine products, and denormalizing the tobacco industry.

The tobacco industry wants Asia, and Asian countries to remain vulnerable to industry tactics to interfere with and undermine public health policies, according to the Asian Tobacco Industry Interference Index. There is a pressing need to ensure that all persons, especially children and youths, are protected from these tactics of the tobacco industry. 

The tobacco industry is known to mislead and misinform policy makers. While claiming ESDs can help smokers quit smoking cigarettes, the industry makes these newer products available in more than 16,000 flavors, most of which are candy and fruit flavors, and promotes them online to lure young people into a lifetime of nicotine addiction. As it has done with cigarettes, the tobacco industry also sponsors events popular among the youth, such as music festivals and sports events, as a way to normalize ESD use. 

Across Asia, rates of e-cigarette use among adolescents (13-15 years old) is increasing, often higher than smoking. In Malaysia, the prevalence of e-cigarette use is 23.5% for boys and 6.2% for girls (in 2022). In the Philippines, it is 20.9% for boys and 7.5% for girls (in 2019). In Thailand, 20.2% for boys and 15% for girls are using ESDs in 2022.

“The world made a mistake by allowing tobacco companies to make and sell cigarettes. Current data clearly shows that we are sleepwalking into another epidemic with e-cigarettes. Governments have an opportunity to act decisively by banning these products before their use becomes more widespread,“ said SEATCA Executive Director Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo. 

“The tobacco industry will stop at nothing to ensure that its addictive and harmful business survives and thrives. Our children are under attack. The Thai government should fully enforce the ban on e-cigarettes to ensure that our youth are protected from a lifetime of nicotine addiction,” stated Prof. Dr. Prakit Vathesatogkit, Executive Director, Action on Smoking and Health, Thailand. 

“Every government is mandated to ensure that every citizen, especially young people, fully enjoys their right to live healthy lives. We will give our youths ample opportunities & support to meaningfully engage with the government and key stakeholders to enable them to become more resilient. We shall help them see through the tobacco industry’s misinformation & disinformation as we work towards a tobacco-free generation, a vape-free world, and a healthier future,” said Dr. Dexter Galban, Assistant Secretary, Department of Education, Philippines. 

The workshop will conclude on 15 May and will feature a call for action by youth leaders from across ASEAN. 

Contact Information: 
Val Bugnot, Media and Communications Manager, SEATCA 
Email: val@seatca.org Mobile: +63917312460

About SEATCA

SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014. SEATCA is also accredited by the ASEAN Secretariat.