State of Vaping in Thailand
Do you like Muay Thai kickboxing? I do! My class is planning a trip to train with some of the masters. Naturally, I wondered about the state of vaping in Thailand and if I could take my e-cig with me. No one in my class knew the answer. None of us have ever been there. A few of my more helpful classmates immediately took to their phones and consulted Google to get me an answer. It didn’t help.
Travel Advisor says that electronic cigarettes are not allowed in Thailand but vapor products are available there. Okay, what does that mean? Some people have stated that their e-cigs were confiscated at customs and they were fined. In fact, there is an image circulating of what appears to be Thai customs officers destroying confiscated electronic cigarettes by crushing them with a steamroller! There are also reports that you can get 5 years in jail for vaping in Thailand! That kind of makes a statement.
Some said they passed through customs and vapes on the streets of Bangkok in front of a police officer with no issue. One person wrote that a police officer actually tried his vape! What is going on here? The state of vaping in Thailand is very confusing. With things like fines and a 5-year jail sentence on the line, I am not about to just wing it based on some conflicting reports. What are the actual vaping laws in Thailand? If like me, you are thinking of traveling to Thailand, you need real answers not a bunch of internet rumors.
Vaping Laws In Thailand
To get a real answer, I called the Royal Thai Consulate in Los Angeles. I left a detailed message regarding vaping in Thailand and asking if I could bring my vape with me. The next day I had a return phone call and the answer was very clear. The answer was no. My vape and e-liquid is not allowed in Thailand and is considered illegal.
The Consular official I spoke to was very professional, friendly and very firm. Despite the varying reports out there, I did not detect any gray area expressed in her voice. At all.
In probing for details, I believe that I found out why vaping in Thailand is so confusing. There is no actual law against vaping or vapor products in Thailand. Instead, vapor products fall under customs law in a category called “goods that have not been taxed”. Here are the applicable laws:
- Customs Act 27 states that avoiding import duty taxation is tax evasion and against the law. Violating Customs Act 27 is punishable by fines, five years in jail or both. The fines are calculated based on the cost of the products that evaded taxation and they can be steep. The five years in jail is obviously the source of reports of going to jail for vaping.
- Customs Act 20 gives Thai law enforcement arrest powers without a warrant if you are deemed to be breaking the law. Basically, this provides the legal basis for arresting someone in possession of vapor products. Similar to “probable cause” in the United States.
Can You Buy Vapor Products In Thailand?
Are you ready for a bit more confusion? There are many places that you can buy vapor products in Thailand. You may even see people walking around vaping. The question becomes whether or not you know and can establish that import duties have been paid on your vapor products. I was not able to get a clear answer on how a tourist would be able to provide that proof.
Searching Thai media sources for further information on electronic cigarettes in Thailand, I found a significant lean toward negative publicity. I came across many news articles suggesting that e-cigarettes are just as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes. The smoking rate in Thailand in people over 15 years of age is 21% and rising. A pack of cigarettes in Thailand costs about $4. Get this, the excise tax on imported cigarettes in Thailand was raised to 90% in 2016.
Tobacco cigarettes represent a growing source of revenue for the government. Is that why the local reporting on electronic cigarettes is so negative? Perhaps in the future, the Thai government will ease the stance toward e-cigs and vaping when they are able to implement systems to account for and collect taxes on vapor imports. For the time being, however, don’t take you vape to Thailand.
Don’t Vape in Thailand. Leave Your E-Cigs At Home
We can debate the merits of the vaping laws in Thailand all day. At the end of the day, we are visitors in someone else’s home. Whether or not you can get away with it shouldn’t be a consideration. It was made clear to me by an official from the Royal Thailand Consulate that electronic cigarettes are against the law and not allowed. As visitors to their beautiful country, we should respect that.
That’s really the final analysis. First, we should not abuse the privilege of visiting Thailand by flaunting their laws. Second, there are potential consequences including arrest. Don’t vape in Thailand. Leave your vape gear and e-liquids at home. They will be there waiting for you when you get back.