Anti-smoking advocates on Wednesday shrugged off a call by a pro-vaping group for e-cigarettes to be provided by the state as an option for smoking cessation treatment, as being offered in Britain.
They said Thailand will first have to achieve a good standard of tobacco use control that is of a similar standard to Britain.
Britain was given a full score out of 10 whereas Thailand received only 5 for its achievements in tobacco control policy, said Roengrudee Patanavanich, a doctor and academic with Ramathibodi Hospital’s Department of Community Medicine.
She cited the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2019 Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic.
Thailand’s tobacco control success was rated that low despite the fact the country has enforced a law prohibiting smoking in public places, as urged by the WHO, for over a decade now, she said.
Among the key indicators in which Thailand failed were those involving tobacco taxation and tobacco prices, she said, adding tobacco taxation wasn’t adjusted in line with changes in income, making cigarettes relatively cheap.
“Britain raises its tobacco taxes 2% every year, a rate higher than its inflation, and it taxes all types of tobacco at almost equal rates to prevent smokers from switching to cheaper products.
Thailand on the other hand still lacks effective measures to deal with illegal cigarettes,” she said.
France and Italy were examples of countries where smoking rates were falling slowly, even slower than Thailand, because they had legalised electronic cigarettes while still lacking effective tobacco control measures, said Prakit Vathesatogkit, president of Action on Smoking and Health Foundation Thailand.
The pro-vaping group had gone too far in its call for provision of free e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation option here in Thailand.