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Thailand takes the dangerous path of denying harm reducing alternatives

Thailand’s Public Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said last week that the importation and production ban on vaping products will continue, depriving Thai smokers of provable alternatives to quit.

“Thailand’s failure to acknowledge the powerful benefits of harm reduction — specifically in vaping products and other nicotine alternatives — shows that they are letting down the 15.4 million Thai smokers,” said Tarmizi bin Anuwar, an associate at the Consumer Choice Center.

“There is a reason that countries such as Japan, and more recently the Phillippines have embraced these novel technologies, empowering their own people and giving them legal alternatives to save lives. The government must take an evidence-based policy approach in developing policy to ensure that the government does not do wrong actions,” he added.

“Every health ministry in the world is looking for solutions to reduce the use of combustible tobacco by their populations. While they continue searching, nicotine alternatives such as vaping have proven to be a gateway away from smoking and are now a key tool for harm reduction globally,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center.

“If the Thai government continues its prohibition on nicotine alternatives, they are depriving their citizens of other means of putting down the cigarette. This impacts every segment of society — young and old — and will have real health consequences.

“To demonstrate to the international community that Thailand is serious about this issue, they should empower their consumers and entrepreneurs to deliver the solutions that have already driven record-low smoking rates in other countries, by embracing and legalizing vaping products and nicotine alternatives,” said Ossowski.

“Otherwise, smokers will be forced to turn to illicit markets to find these products that are widely available outside the country, which will be harmful for society overall.”

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