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Call for higher tax, tougher law on smoking

Health experts also push for the use of e-cigarettes to be controlled

Health experts have pressed for tougher laws to reduce the number of smokers, noting out that even "e-cigarettes" are harmful to health.

Thailand today marks World No Tobacco Day - while up to 12 million Thais remain smokers.

Smoking is blamed for extensive health problems including strokes, paralysis, heart failure and cancer.

Dr Prakit Vathesatogkit, executive secretary of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation Thailand, yesterday recommended a higher tax on cigarettes because raising the price is an effective way to curb smoking.

Disease Control Department deputy director general Nopporn Chuenklin highlighted the need to control "electronic" cigarettes. As these are relatively new products, the Tobacco Control Act doesn't fully cover them, he said.

"This act was passed more than 20 years ago," Nopporn explained, adding that the department had prepared a new version of the act and would ask the National Council for Peace and Order to approve it.

"In this new version, the definition of cigarettes will also cover 'electronic' cigarettes," he said.

Dr Suthat Rungruanghiranya, a specialist in respiratory and critical care medicine at Srinakharinwirot University, said when compared with a common cigarette, an "electronic" or e-cigarette usually contained much higher nicotine.

"When you smoke one 'electronic' cigarette, you take in an amount of nicotine similar to that from six common cigarettes," he said.

Nicotine is an addictive agent that harms blood vessels. Diabetics who smoke have a greater risk of developing chronic wounds and amputation, while male smokers risks impotentence.

"An excessive intake of nicotine causes death," the specialist warned.

'Electronic' smokes carcinogenic

He said because e-cigarettes were rather new, it took time for researchers to determine their real effects.

"But by now, it is becoming clear that 'electronic' cigarettes are not good for people's health," Suthat said.

The American Cancer Society had reported that cells exposed to smoke from e-cigarettes turned carcinogenic.

"This means any claim that 'electronic' cigarettes will save smokers from cancers is untrue," he said.

Suthat also dismissed claims that e-cigarettes would ease the addiction.

"These claims are also false because 'electronic' cigarettes contain nicotine," he said.

Prakit said to lower the number of smokers, laws must get tougher and anti-smoking campaigns must continue.


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