Bangkok, March 3, 2017 (TNE): In a unanimous vote, the Thai parliament has passed a bill barring youths under 20 years from buying cigarettes, in a bid to stem the growing number of young smokers, the authorities have said.
The new bill is awaiting the assent of King Maha Vajiralongkorn to become law.
In addition to raising the minimum age, the bill seeks to ban all tobacco-related advertising, free sampling, cigarette sales in close proximity to schools, and sales of individual cigarettes.
Parliament’s approval of the new bill came nearly half a year after the cabinet endorsed it, following criticism that the law as was, failed to prevent young people from smoking.
To discourage illegal sales to minors, the bill also increased punishment to a maximum of three months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of 855 dollars, from one month in jail and or 2,000 baht stipulated in the 1995 bill.
“The bill will certainly help reduce the number of young smokers, but it will not be 100 per-cent effective,” said Prakit Vathesatogkit, executive secretary of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation of Thailand.
According to Prakit, 11.4 million Thais were smokers in 2014 out of a total population of 65 million, among the smokers 1.6 million were 19-24 years old and 350,000 were aged 15-18.
The 2014 figures decreased slightly from 2011, in line with the global trend, as quitting is generally difficult, Prakit said. (TNE)