BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): The government should legalise vaping devices in order to eliminate smuggling of the devices into Thailand and extortion related to their use, Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn (pic) said on Thursday (Feb 2).
His comment follows rising public confusion about the devices after Bangkok police allegedly took a bribe from a group that included a Taiwanese actress after finding they had vaping devices.
Two police captains and five sergeants from Huay Kwang station are facing disciplinary and criminal charges after detaining actress Charlene An for carrying a vaping device on Jan 5 and then letting her go in exchange for 27,000 baht.
Former politician and massage parlour tycoon turned whistleblower Chuwit Kamolvisit asked on his Facebook page on Wednesday why vaping devices are still illegal in Thailand even though cannabis was legalised in June of last year.
Chaiwut said vaping devices are used daily by some Thais and are legal in many countries, including the US, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.
Making vaping devices illegal in Thailand resulted in smuggling for sales both offline and online, as well as extortion, he said.
"We should legalise vaping devices," he said, adding that the government can generate revenue from taxing them.
Chaiwut, who is also deputy leader of the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), said he would push for vaping device legalisation as part of the party’s platform in the upcoming general election.
"If PPRP is allowed to set up the government again, we will legalise vaping devices," he said.
Chaiwut said that 12 online lottery platforms had been shut for overpricing so far, but some lottery platform operators were still opposing government regulations. He expects the court to rule on the remaining operators soon.
"It is up to the police and Department of Special Investigation to collect evidence as lottery platform operators may be involved in other issues, such as money laundering," he said.