A SOCIAL media post by Taiwanese actress Charlene An about her apprehension by Thai police and the hefty fine she had to pay for possession of vape product in Bangkok sparked debates on the merits of smoke-free alternative and the need for reasonable regulations.
An said she and her friends had to pay 27,000 baht (about S$1,080) before they could leave after being held and threatened with criminal charges by Thai police for the possession of vaping device. Thailand’s police commissioner issued an apology following An’s post and seven officers were placed under investigation for alleged extortion.
Following this incident that went viral on social media, calls from advocacy groups worldwide on the importance of reasonable and science-based regulation governing smoke-free alternatives like vapes and heated tobacco products ensued.
Nicotine Consumers Union of the Philippines (NCUP) appealed for governments to reconsider less-harmful cigarette alternatives to reduce harm from smoking.
“We hope that other Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, would recognize the concept of tobacco harm reduction (THR) to save millions of smokers from lung diseases, cancer and even death. Smokers should be given access to less harmful products and make better decisions for themselves,” Anton Israel, NCUP president said.
“Vapes and heated tobacco products are tobacco harm reduction products that deliver nicotine without burning tobacco significantly lowering the number of harmful chemicals than smoking.
Many progressive countries, including the UK and Japan, recognize the role of these products to help smokers abandon cigarettes. Both these countries recorded significant decline in smoking prevalence following the introduction of vapes and heated tobacco products” Israel added.
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