BANGKOK – Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn has announced a toughened tobacco control law takes effect in Thailand, raising the legal age to buy cigarettes to 20 and barring tobacco firms from indirect advertisements via corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said yesterday the 2017 Tobacco Control Act was designed to cut the number of teenage smokers while protecting non-smokers’ health.
The stricter law was necessary to keep children from picking up the habit because tobacco firms had come up with sophisticated marketing strategies to entice young smokers, he said.
Dr Piyasakol said the amended law was also intended to protect the health of non-smokers.
Moreover, the government is obliged to follow the World Health Organizations Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, he said. Under the framework, any law associated with tobacco must be amended to protect the health of citizens, particularly young people.
He said tobacco consumption poses major health problems and is a leading cause of illnesses and premature deaths, adding that over 50,000 people die yearly due to smoking-induced illnesses incurring economic losses estimated at 74.8 billion baht (US$2.2 billion).
It is hoped the 2017 will close loopholes in the 1992 Tobacco Products Control Act which was in place for 25 years, director-general of the Department of Disease Control Dr Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk said.
He said the amended version has introduced several elements the public need to know about to ensure compliance or they will be subject to legal action.
Under the law, the minimum legal age for buying cigarettes is raised to 20 while the minimum legal age for selling tobacco is 18.
The sale of tobacco is prohibited in temples or religious venues; hospitals, medical facilities and pharmacies; education institutes; and public parks, amusement parks and zoos.
He said the law bans the promotion of tobacco items, including indirect advertisements carried out in the name of corporate social responsibility activities.
People who light up in smoke-free areas will be fined 5,000 baht (US$147) and those who supervise non-smoking areas are required to keep people informed of the restrictions and make sure there are no violations or they face a 3,000-baht (US$88) fine.