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B10m in illegal e-cigarettes though Facebook

Pol Lt Gen Torsak Sukwimol, commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, discusses the seizure of an estimated 10 million baht worth of e-cigarettes and related products during a media briefing on Saturday. (Supplied photo via Wassayos Ngamkham)

Four people have been arrested and 10 million baht worth of e-cigarettes and related items seized in Bangkok following an investigation into illegal online sales of the banned products.

The arrests followed a raid by police from the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of a warehouse in Kheha Rom Klao Soi 27 in the Rat Phattana area of Saphan Sung district on Friday.

The officers seized 50,000 bottles of refill liquid for e-cigarettes, 10,000 refill pods, 1,500 e-cigarettes and 80 boxes of related products worth a total of at least 10 million baht, CIB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Torsak Sukwimol said during a briefing on Saturday.

One woman and three men were arrested. They were identified as Nara Yiewsrikhol, 46; Pranom Wongprasopchok, 51; Issara Wongprasopchok, 34; and Wattana Wongprasopchok, 21.

All were charged with colluding in the sale of banned products in violation of the Consumer Protection Act.

Pol Lt Gen Torsak said the CIB had received complaints that e-cigarettes and refill products of various brands were being sold via Facebook. Administrators of the page claimed that their products were made from dried fruits and posed no harm to users.

CIB investigators found that the Facebook page had been active for three years. Female presenters or “pretties” were hired to promote the products, which drew many purchase orders, said Pol Lt Gen Torsak.

The investigators then sought a warrant from the Criminal Court to search the warehouse that led to the seizure of the products, which were imported from China.

Authorities said they would also call the product presenters in for questioning.

The government passed a law banning the sale of e-cigarettes in 2014. Authorities have said import and use is banned for health reasons and because electronic cigarettes lure young people into becoming smokers.

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