Saturday, 16 December 2017

Keep Smoking, Thailand Needs The Cash

The drafts have been piling up here lately due to a hectic pre-Christmas in Puddlecoteville and at Puddlecote Inc, but here's a disturbing story from Thailand last week that deserves comment.
Net Idol arrested for e-cigarette faces 5 years saying police treatment "over the top"
A well known internet celebrity who was arrested in Pattaya at a checkpoint when an e-cigarette and vaping liquid were found has said her treatment at the hands of the local cops was over the top. 
Manutsaya Yaowarat - otherwise known as Fluksri Maneedeng - went on social media after she was filmed being dragged to the cells
It was confirmed that she had just one e-cigarette and one vial of liquid in her possession. No other charges have been mentioned. 
But a top lawyer said that she could still face 5 years in jail and a fine of four times the value of the vaping equipment and fluid that was found hidden in the console of her car. 
Popular online lawyer Kertphon Kaewket reminded the public that the importation of e-cigarettes and vaping fluid was a serious offence that could land people in jail for ten years and command 500,000 baht fines. 
But even possession was serious and could generate a 5 year prison term and from half to four times the value of the goods seized.
Presumably, if she'd have been smoking there wouldn't be a problem. Well yes, because the Thailand tobacco industry is a nationalised monopoly with a clearly stated aim.
Thailand Tobacco Monopoly was established in 1939 according to the Cabinet’s resolution. TTM operates in the tobacco production and distribution business in order to contribute revenue to the State for the country development and plays an important role in the economic system of Thailand.
The girl's 'crime', then, appears to be using something which would reduce tobacco duty income to the Thai state. Interesting way of governing a country, don't you think? 

A fellow jewel robber from the country (yes, there are some) pointed me in the direction of the law that was being enforced here, and it is truly laughable.
Testing by the Scientific Services Department of the Ministry of Science and Technology and by the Department of Disease Prevention, Ministry of Public Health, has found a number of hazardous chemicals detrimental to the body in these products, including propylene glycol, menthol, cyclohexanol, triacetin, benzene derivatives, lead, and cadmium.
Presumably, everything else containing PG and menthol will also be banned? It would make for quite a list.
Testing has also found that smoking with these devices may cause or contribute to the development and spread of diseases such as tuberculosis, colds, influenza, diphtheria, pertussis, and hepatitis B. Use may also lead to other serious diseases of the mouth, since users tend to share the devices among their peer group; a hazardous practice that may, in turn, lead to use of other addictive substances including ecstasy, ketamine, amphetamines, marijuana, or cocaine. 
So anything that can be shared is highly dangerous and could lead to the user becoming a junkie? Riiiight. I wonder what their stance is on kissing?

Anyway, who is to blame for this quite ludicrous state of affairs? Who has facilitated a national government to bring in a law prohibiting a less risky alternative to smoking in order to protect the Thailand tobacco industry?

Why, it's the World Health Organisation, of course!

In November last year I travelled to India for the WHO's COP7 shindig and Thailand was prominent on the group of 'parties' who were desperate that the word "prohibit" was not removed from regulatory options endorsed by the WHO. For two whole nights they were buzzing around trying to gain support, and they were eventually successful. The WHO's final guidance included prohibition and so Thailand can point to the World Health Organisation as a reason they have banned import, manufacture, sale and possession of a threat to their tobacco monopoly, and therefore justification for dragging a girl to the cells for possession of a bottle of e-liquid.

Great work guys at the WHO! The Thailand exchequer thanks you for being their tobacco industry's biggest supporter. 

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