If you’re planning to travel to the wonderful country of Thailand, you’ll need to leave your vape at home. They’re illegal in the country.
The penalties for anyone caught with a vape in Thailand, even for personal use, range from fines to imprisonment.
Are E-Cigs Banned in Thailand?
Although some airports allow travelers to carry e-cigarettes in their hand luggage, vaping in Thailand is prohibited.
The vaping ban went into effect in 2014 with legislators citing public health reasons and the concern that vaping lures young people into underage smoking.
There are different laws aimed at the practice, one of which prohibits the importation, exportation, trade, and possession of any vaping equipment in the country.
Moreover, Thai law controls goods that do not have taxes levied on them and vapor products fall into this category by default.
What Happens If You Get Caught Vaping in Thailand?
Anyone who gets caught using vape pens or similar devices along with any of the various supplies accompanying them faces serious punishment, including:
- A fine that could be as high as several times the value of the illegal items
- An on-the-spot fine of 30,000 baht (about US$895.50)
- A jail sentence of up to ten years
Regardless of which penalty is issued, the arrestee’s vaping equipment will be confiscated by a police officer, as is the case for possession of anything else that isn’t legal in Thailand.
Tour operators as well as the tourism authority of Thailand issue travel advisories to tourists visiting the country which state not to carry any e-cigarettes or other items associated with vapes, including their corresponding e-liquids and juice refills.
Countries whose citizens frequently visit Thailand also issue their own warnings, such as the one from the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office website which that states:
“You can’t bring vaporizers (like e-cigarettes and e-baraku) or refills into Thailand. These items are likely to be confiscated and you could pay a fine or serve a jail sentence for up to 10 years if convicted. The sale or supply of e-cigarettes and similar devices is also banned and you could face a heavy fine or up to 5 years’ imprisonment if found guilty.”
Why are Electronic Cigarettes Illegal in Thailand?
One key reason people cannot vape in Thailand is political pressure from different influential corners.
Other than the aforementioned underage smoking and public health concerns, the move to ban vaping is seen as an economic strategy to cushion the Tobacco Authority of Thailand which acts as the sole legal entity controlling the entire tobacco industry in the kingdom.
In addition, the Medical Association of Thailand still disapproves of vaping in Thailand and has even issued a statement criticizing those who openly back legalization and the sale of vapes.
In fact, the Association released an open letter to the Thai government criticizing the country’s Digital Economy and Society minister’s statements that implied making the possession of a vape in Thailand legal.
The association further pointed out that the minister’s outright support for vaping in Thailand comes at a time that the Commerce and Public Health ministries have no policy framework guiding the importation of vaping equipment.
The United Nations in Bangkok also expressed its complete support for the ban of e-cigs in Thailand and has continued to advise the government to take strong measures to aid people in Thailand, especially the young, from the effects of tobacco use.
When Will Smoking E-Cigarettes Be Legal in Thailand?
To answer when it will be legal to vape in Thailand isn’t a question with a straightforward answer but what we know is that the subject sits at the center of national debates and is seemingly fighting an uphill battle against more than just political influence.
Thailand’s prime minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha publically stated he would uphold the ban on electronic cigarettes based on health reasons to avoid burdening the country’s health budget.
This is despite e-cigarettes being regarded as an alternative that can help people quit cigarette smoking.
In as much as the laws regarding vaping are evolving, being caught with an e-cigarette in Thailand is still regarded as possession of drugs by local officials.
It remains to be seen whether laws will change to make vaping legal in the country in the near future.
How Serious Are Thailand’s Vaping Laws?
Thailand’s Customs Act prohibits the importation of electronic cigarettes into Thailand, but you may still spot a few people vaping and even find stalls where you can buy vaping products without so much as a fine, throwing enforcement into question.
The kingdom’s Customs Act on e-cigarettes predominately targets distributors and importers of vaping equipment.
However, if you are caught vaping or in possession of an e-cigarette by local police, you are considered to have brought it into Thailand illegally.
Can You Use or Buy Vape Devices in Thailand?
It is possible to buy a vape device in Thailand, specifically in areas frequented by tourists such as beaches in Koh Samui or Phuket. This doesn’t mean vaping is legal, though, and tourists are discouraged from doing so.
There have been numerous reports of unknowing tourists who ended up arrested, paying a heavy fine, and being deported for being in violation of this law.
Vaping in Thailand is regarded as a practice most prevalent among young people.
For instance, a study published in the European Journal of Public Health indicated that the majority of the e-cig users in Thailand were young people, mostly from Bangkok, and especially males with an average age of 31.
To avoid penalties, most users vape in private such as in their Airbnb or hotel room. They also avoid public areas with smoking regulations such as:
- Shopping malls
- Public transport
- Public parks
- Sidewalks or walking street spaces
When visiting Thailand, the possession of a vaping device is against the law. Travelers caught with them face hefty fines and possible imprisonment.
Although the Thai government continues to pursue cutting down on the kingdom’s rate of smoking, it struggles with inquiries over the effectiveness of its anti-smoking campaigns and increases in consumer movements vying for reforms in global e-cigarette regulations.