According to reports, a French tourist was thrown in jail after refusing to pay a bribe to officers when caught using an e-cigarette.
Vaping regulations are currently among the most commonly changed in the world as legislators debate the proper way to balance their harm reduction value and potential risk. While some countries, such as the UK, have made e-cigarettes a part of their existent smoking cessation programs to incredible results, others remain skeptical. Even worse are the few countries which have chosen to criminalize vaping, seemingly holding it to be much more dangerous than even smoking. This became overwhelmingly apparent for one tourist earlier this month when she was arrested in Thailand for possessing a vaporizer.
While the debate over how to regulate vaping is something going on across most of the world, few places have taken as strict a stance as Thailand. Advocates are even starting to question if the influence and power of Big Tobacco had any impact on their decision to ban possession of vaporizers while leaving cigarettes with no such restrictions. Regardless, this story highlights an extreme case of what’s becoming increasingly common around the globe; legislators are demonizing vaping despite a growing pile of independent research supporting their harm reduction and smoking cessation value.
According to the Korea Times, a French tourist was detained and extorted by Thai police for having an e-cigarette in her hand earlier this month. When she refused to pay the requested bribe, she was promptly arrested and held in a cell with many others for several days, according to reports. Thailand famously has the world’s strictest vaping laws, but many tourists remain unaware of the incredibly harsh level of punishment which was passed in 2014. According to the tourist, she was forced to share “a hard, dirty floor with 60 other people for four days,” before being presented with an 827 baht fine ($26). Ultimately it cost her another $9000 between lawyer fees and reworked travel, not to mention completely ruining what was supposed to be a vacation with her significant other.
While this may seem like an unusual outlying case, this kind of regulation is slowly becoming more common. Just last month, Hong Kong officials announced they’d soon be jailing offenders who import, make, sell, or even promote vaping products. This news came along with the announcement of their new outright ban on vaporizers, which officials say will be implemented as soon as possible. So despite the pile of independent vaping research which supports the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaping, there are still plenty of countries moving in the wrong direction.
In Support Of Vaping
While we can’t say much for certain yet, one thing is abundantly clear through the over decade of vaping research we have; vaping is a whole lot safer than smoking. Public Health England first reported back in 2015 that e-cigarettes are at least 95% safer than combustible cigarettes after a comprehensive study. That was one of the first massive reports to prove this level of harm reduction, but it was far from the last. In fact, ever since it first came out nearly five years ago, researchers have repeatedly reached similar results. For instance, just a few months back a report concluded cigarette smoke has about 93% more toxicants than e-liquid vapor. But the most unequivocal proof we have of what’s at stake is the report published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker.
While we have the most evidence supporting the harm reduction value of vaping, that hardly all that matters. For example, one of the most common reasons people give to be wary of vaping is the potential impact on teens. The story usually goes that by accepting vaping as a society, we would indicate to kids that vaping is 100% harmless and get them hooked, which would somehow eventually make them full blown smokers. Luckily the large scale research on this topic paints a much less scary picture. A report of over 60,000 students found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vaporizer regularly, let alone a cigarette. On top of those findings, we also have reason to believe vaping is not just an effective smoking cessation tool, but the best we have.
Ridiculous vaping regulations like they have in Thailand are a real shame. Not only are they unfair to vapers who haven’t done anything worth being thrown in jail. But they’re also making it harder for the smokers there ever to end their dependence. Places where vaping has been incorporated into smoking cessation campaigns, such as the UK, are currently experiencing their lowest smoking rates ever recorded. Places like Thailand are instead giving a considerable advantage to Big Tobacco. Regardless of if this is done on purpose or not, the result is the same. More people die every year from smoking that might have found another way with vaping. This is the true tragedy of the situation.
Are you surprised you can be jailed just for having a vape? What’s the best way to teach others about vaping? Is it a big deal if other countries don’t understand what vaping has to offer? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.