Vapers in Thailand are faced with some of the harshest regulations worldwide. A ban on the import, export, sale and possession of vaping products has been in place since November 2014. Anyone caught breaking this law will have their items confiscated and fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted.
In fact only last week, two young adults were arrested in Pathum Thani for selling vaping products via Facebook. This has prompted many locals to speak up and even start a petition on chang.org urging local lawmakers to review the ban whilst refering to regulations around the world such as in many EU countries, where at least (despite still unfair), vaping products are regulated as other tobacco products.
Public Health Ministry states strong position against e-cigarettes
In response to this, earlier this week the deputy director-general of the Public Health Ministry’s Disease Control Department Dr Assadang Ruay-archin, has released a statement wrongly saying that the products are as hazardous to one’s health as regular cigarettes, since they contain nicotine and are therefore as addictive.
Media reports have since shown interest in PMI’s iQOS, questioning whether this device classifies as an electronic cigarette. In response to this, last Friday the Managing Director for Philip Morris (Thailand) Gerald Margolis, released a statement explaining how the device works. “This is different from e-cigarettes, which generate nicotine-containing aerosols by heating a liquid without using tobacco leaves,” he said in a press release.
The iQOS device, is a Heat not Burn (HnB) smokeless alternative to combustible cigarettes and works by heating tobacco leaves known as Heets or HeatSticks. These refills which look like short cigarettes, must be inserted into the device and are heated up once iQOS is turned on. They are sold by Philip Morris under the Marlboro brand (depending on the country) for approximately the same price as their combustible counterparts.
PMI marketing itself as having smoking cessation at heart
Margolis said that it is important for smokers to have access to safer alternatives. “Our vision on ‘designing a smoke-free future’ is to replace cigarettes with non-combustible products as soon as possible,” Margolis said.
In the meantime while PMI is working hard at trying to convince the world that it aims to contribute to a smokefree world, and is awaiting approval for iQOS by the US FDA, former employees and contractors at the Big Tobacco company have reported irregularities in the clinical trials pertaining to the product.
Read Further: The Nation