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Since the introduction of a severe vaping ban in 2014, Thailand's vaping activists have been calling for a rethink to the country's antivaping stance. Is legalisation on the horizon for Thailand's vapers?


0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak
0:28 - Will Godfrey discusses efforts to overturn Thailand's vape ban
1:27 - Government minister supports legalising vapes
2:32 - Myths about vape harms are still prevalent
3:30 - Closing remarks


Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. Today we'll

be speaking with Will Godfrey of Filter about prospects for overturning Thailand's notorious

vape ban in the run-up to national elections in the country. Hello Will. How do things

currently stand in Thailand? Hi Joanna. Thailand currently has one of the world's harshest

total vape bans. Even possessing nicotine vapes can carry a prison sentence of up to

five years. The ban was implemented back in 2014 amid pressure from Thai and international

anti-vaping groups and it has encouraged corrupt police to practice extortion, forcing both

locals and foreigners to pay bribes in order to avoid arrest and prosecution in numerous

cases. About 10 million people smoke cigarettes in the country, which suffers over 80,000

smoking-related deaths per year. And although an estimated 80,000 people vape despite the

ban, uptake has clearly been severely restricted. What are the prospects for change? Well, a

key minister who's deputy leader of the Palang Pacharath Party, which leads the governing

coalition, has in the past couple of years spoken in favour of legalising vapes as a

safer option for people who smoke. And he recently confirmed that decriminalisation

will be part of his party's platform for the national elections on May 14th, as Kiran Sidhu

reported for Filter. I'm being hopeful that finally Thailand will embrace the benefits

of e-cigarettes, as Sir Sally Gupta, a Thai THR advocate who's the director of End Cigarette

Smoking Thailand, told Kiran. We have seen good signs. These signs include, he continued,

the tobacco authority of Thailand reportedly looking into the economic benefits legalisation

could bring, such as the possibility of the country producing vapes for export. And another

political party, a major one called Move Forward Party, also recently announced vape legalisation

in its election platform. What's the bigger picture and what could be the implications

of the ban being overturned? It's been a long, hard road for Thai THR activists, and many

people have needlessly suffered under the current policy. There is a substantial illicit

vapes market, as Sally Gupta expressed, but the perception that vaping is more harmful

than smoking remains widespread at the moment. As a result of the ban, many people who might

be vaping are still smoking, and many people have suffered from criminalisation or exploitation

by law enforcement. It would be a huge deal to change all that. While the country has

draconian drug policies overall, it did legalise cultivation and possession of cannabis last

year. Legalising vapes could not only benefit millions of people in Thailand, but would

also stand as a symbolic victory for harm reduction in Asia. India is among other Asian

countries with total vape bans, but the Philippines moved to regulate vapes last year, and a reversal

in Thailand could generate momentum around the continent. Harm reductionists will be

keeping a close eye on the outcome of the elections.

Thank you Will. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our GFN

TV podcast. And don't forget to register for the Global Forum on Nicotine conference

taking place in Warsaw from the 23rd to 24th of June. Thanks for watching or listening.

See you next time.