The Legality of Vaping in Thailand
Despite vaping being a common activity in many western countries, Thailand has banned e-cigarettes and vape juice since 2014.
While the penalties for possession can vary, a person caught vaping or with in possession of vape products can be fined up to 30,000 baht and jailed for as long as 10 years.
Just like any other illegal activity, a black market exists to cater to vaping Thais. Stats from 2019 indicate that the value of the Thai e-cigarette market falls somewhere equivalent to 100,000-200,000 US Dollars.
Anyone looking to vape within Thailand’s borders is advised to do so in private, far from the public and authorities.
If the police should catch you, do not lose your cool. Never argue, act as clueless about the problem as you can and try to negotiation your fine as low as possible. It should also be known that the Thai government considers vaping at home to be equivalent domestic violence, even if it is a second-hand or third-hand capacity.
Why is Vaping Illegal in Thailand?
Vaping is a new concept in Thailand and its laws struggle to keep up with technology. This legislation is also affected by the results of various studies on the dangers of vaping and e-cigarette usage.
Notably, the Thai government tends to disregard most reports that cite minimal health hazards from vaping.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is of the opinion that vaping is a dangerous activity capable of harming the public health. Multiple studies have also shown that the risks of cancer and other health hazards are far lower than that of traditional cigarettes.
The WHO considers vaping too young a technology to verify the effects of e-cigarette use over a long-term period of time.
When tourists hear about this, they usually wonder why something engineered to help stop a person from smoking might be banned in this particular country.
The Thai government believes that the importation and use of vaporizers is banned due to its concerns over the health of the populace and that access to such devices will encourage young people to take up smoking.
The Laws Concerning Vaping in the Country
The country does not have a specific law in effect that bans vaping or the possession and/or use of e-cigarettes. Instead, the legal status of these items and acts is handled under Section 20 of the Customs Act, a section that covers the importation of items like electronic cigarettes.
Section 20 handles goods that are not taxed, meaning possession of such items is an illegal act.
In short, while vaping is not covered under a specific legal ban, the reality is that someone can only come across a vaporizer by having it brought into the country through illegal means.
This arrangement means that the government is able to ban vaping without drawing up legislation specifically designed to address it.
The one exception to this situation is to have proof of a purchase made prior to December of 2014. In this particular case, the government sees such devices as having been acquired under then-legal status.
Thailand’s Fines and Punishments for Vaping
While every case is different, the police can impose several types of penalties upon an offender. The lightest punishment would be a fine equivalent to four times the value of the equipment.
While this is the lightest fine, it also forces the police to assess the value of the equipment. This situation usually results in a 30,000 baht fine instead. Not only is a flat fine easier for police to enact, it is influenced by the officer’s mood and your negotiation skills.
Jail terms range anywhere from one to 10 years. Furthermore, penalties entail a court appearance, where the judge will dictate the length of time to be served.
Casual hobbyists should bear in mind that jail sentences are more of a concern for distributors instead of individuals.
Will Vaping Ever Be Legal in Thailand?
As things currently sit, the answer to this question remains a mystery. Previously vape products were available online at large retailers such as lazada and reviewed on Thai websites such as wereview.
Obviously, the rising popularity of vaping among other countries is sure to pressure the Thai government to pen some sort of specific law governing the act and its equipment, if only to keep up appearances.
While 2018 saw a news report claiming that the government had considered taxing, and thus legalizing, e-cigarettes and vaping liquids, nothing tangible has yet emerged from these claims.