Thai Tobacco Monopoly withdraws products from Tabinfo Asia 2009..

November 15, 2009 - The Thai Tobacco Monopoly (TTM) is withdrawing its tobacco products from the Tabinfo Asia 2009 expo which kicks off today.

The TTM board decided on Monday to use the gathering of global tobacco producers and distributors to promote tourism rather than tobacco products.

TTM's spokeswoman Prapassorn Pongpansal said the agency decided to shift its emphasis after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva instructed state agencies not to support the event.

"The prime minister did not want us to promote smoking, so we have changed our booth display to promote unseen tourist destinations and Thai culture," Mrs Prapassorn said.

Thailand is a signatory to the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which prohibits government agencies from taking part in tobacco promotions and from receiving financial support from the tobacco industry.

Prakit Vathesatogkit, executive secretary of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation (ASH Thailand) which is leading protests against the Tabinfo Asia, said the TTM should not even be attending the event.

Mary Assunta, the senior policy adviser to the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, said the exhibition was a nightmare for Asians.

New strategies and tobacco products were being designed to turn more Asians into smokers. Many of these initiatives were the outcome of a tobacco expo held in Kuala Lumpur in 2005, she said.

Tobacco manufacturers are producing flavoured cigarettes and have designed cigarette cases similar to lipstick cases to attract female smokers, Ms Assunta yesterday told an anti-smoking seminar.

"From Tabinfo Asia 2009, we can expect the industry to step up its tactics to wipe the regulatory slate clean," she said.

"We can anticipate this based on the kind of sessions and discussions it has lined up for its upcoming congress 'Operating in the World of Bans'."

Becky Freeman, a researcher at the University of Sydney, complained tobacco manufacturers were using the internet and social networking sites to market products to young people. (Australian Health Minister - orders facebook probe..)

Reference: TTM withdraws products from Tabinfo Asia, Bangkok Post, 11/11/2009.

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