January 7, 2011 - Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said yesterday, January 5th the ministry would amend the 1992 Tobacco Products Control Act and prohibit the sale of tobacco products to people under 20 and issue a regulation that manufacturers can only sell fire-safe cigarettes that cut down fire risks and exposure to second-hand smoke.
The announcement was made by Jurin after he chaired a meeting with the National Tobacco Control Committee. He said the panel had come up with resolutions to amend the 1992 Act as well as ministerial regulations to control tobacco consumption and marketing.
Under the 1992 Tobacco Products Control Act, the ministry will revise the definition of tobacco products to cover all products that contain nicotine such as drinking water, gel, chewing gum and electronic cigarettes. Previously, the definition under this act had only covered tobacco products. The ministry will also revise the definition of "sell" in the law to cover words such as selling, giving, exchanging or distributing products containing nicotine for commercial benefit.
The ministry will revise the minimum legal age for purchasing cigarettes or tobacco products from 18 to 20 years old. Selling cigarettes to those under 20 via vending machines, the Internet or giving them as gifts is also prohibited. Selling tobacco products at a discount will also be prohibited.
Under the revised law, cigarette brands will be banned from all kinds of advertising, except for live broadcasts from abroad. He said the revisions would be submitted to the Cabinet and House of Representatives for consideration and approval first.
Thailand (Kingdom of Thailand (Formerly Siam) has an estimated population of 65 million) will be the first Asian country to allow only fire-safe cigarettes to be sold in the nation. On October 1, 2005, Canada became the first country to implement a nationwide cigarette fire safety standard. United States - as of January 1, 2010, the fire-safe cigarette law was in effect in 43 states. Europe - On November 30, 2007, 27 EU states approved a European Commission proposal which would require the tobacco industry to use fire-retardant paper in all cigarettes. The EU Commission has said that all cigarettes sold throughout the European Union will be self-extinguishing by 2011. Australia - cigarette companies were required to change their products to ensure that cigarettes self-extinguish more readily before the regulations came into effect in March 2010. (Fire safe cigarette)
"The ministerial regulation should be enforced within a year in Thailand," Jurin said. Under the regulation, the ministry will also ban tobacco manufacturers from adding flavours or vitamins to cigarettes.
At present, up to 20 percent of the Thai population smokes, most of them male. About 1 million of the smokers are between 15 and 24 years of age. The ministry expects these measures to reduce the number of smokers to 10 percent of the population.
The tobacco industry in Thailand is estimated to be worth between Bt60 billion and Bt70 billion (S$2.6 billion - S$3 billion) a year, with the State Tobacco Monopoly having a market share of 75 per cent.
Reference: Tobacco industry and smokers face new measures, The Nation/Asia News Network, 1/5/2011.
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- Thailand is a member of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA)..