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E-Cigarette and Vaping Usage May Result in Criminal Penalties in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

In this video today, we're going to be discussing some recent developments and some recent buzz surrounding the so-called E-cigarettes or vaping here in Thailand. I'm reading from The Telegraph newspaper which is a British news service but the headline reads “Tourists face 10 years in prison for vaping in Thailand experts warn.” To quote directly from the article, “Advice for tourists on the Foreign Office website and to quote further, “You can't bring vaporizers like e-cigarettes… or refills into Thailand. These items are likely to be confiscated and you can be fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted.”

What's going on here? Well first off, the thing to keep in mind is there is a regulatory mechanism for tobacco-like products and smoking products here in Thailand. It's actually called the Thai  Tobacco Monopoly. They have their own regulatory regime. I suspect that this is the outcrop of that regulatory regime.

The other thing to keep in mind is people do maybe forget or sort of intentionally are ignorant of the fact that vaping also can be used for the ingestment of THC products. So for example, marijuana like products and I suspect that the reason for the regulation on this and the sort of stiffness of the penalties or the probable penalties, possible penalties associated with this with this regulation is probably for two reasons. One, you've got in tobacco monopoly which basically has its own regulatory framework and wants to maintain that regulatory framework. At the same time, there's also an impetus and sort of an overarching policy with respect to you know law enforcement, anti-narcotics law enforcement with respect to marijuana, marijuana byproducts, THC delivery devices. I suspect these are both sort of going hand-in-hand with each other to create this overall policy.

That being said, do I feel like it's extremely likely that a guy that comes into the country just happened you know ignorant of this wall who happens to have an e-cigarette in his bag coming into the airport is going to be like beaten down and strip searched in order to find his e-cigarette stash. I find that very unlikely. As with many things here in Thailand, certain penalties associated with transgressions of certain laws and regulations are seemingly extremely spooky, very, very jarring to think of the possibility of doing 10 years for having an e-cigarette. That's not how things tend to work. That's just a possible sort of, it's an ability for the judicial system here, to the judiciary to go ahead and make determinations on case by case basis on the individual facts in the case as to whether or not an individual should receive a certain kind of sentence.

So what I'm talking about here is the guy with the e-cigarette at worst, you know, the single e-cigarette they'll probably confiscate it if it's found and maybe a fine would be attached to it. I can't imagine any type of prison sentence but that being said, I'm not a Thai attorney. I have discussed this with Thai attorneys in the office. They don't seem to think that the single e-cigarette is cause for a great deal of concern other than probable confiscation and possible fining of that individual. What these really heavy penalties seem to be created for is the prospect of an individual say trying to smuggle into the country you know, significant bulk amounts of devices for vaping of marijuana products. I think that's really what they're looking at when you're thinking of this 10-year jail term sort of situation and for that reason, I think maybe the hysteria surrounding their reporting on this topic is a little bit unwarranted but again, for those who don't really sort of understand the contextual nuances of the way that the criminal justice system works here in Thailand, this can seem pretty daunting when viewed from how things actually play out sort of in a practical manner. The attorneys I was talking to in the office during the week when we were discussing just sort of off-hand discussing this, they basically said this isn't for you know the person that has one e-cigarette, this is for people that have you know, this is to combat smuggling of vaping products for marijuana in the country.