Foreigners are reminded that e-cigarettes and vaping is illegal in Thailand. People using or importing e-cigs could be deported, fined and even sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted.
A French woman who was on holiday in Phuket in January was deported from Thailand a fter police arrested her for smoking an e-cigarette. According to the Phuket News, Cecilia Cornu, 31, was on a family holiday when she was stopped by Karon police on Jan 30 whilst on a scooter with her fiancée as her parents and brother followed behind. Ms.Cornu c laimed that officers confiscated the e-cigarette, arrested her and then demanded 40,000 baht for her release – something which Karon police strenuously deny. Ms.Cornu was later charged, had her passport confiscated and given a trial date of Feb 11. She then paid 100,000 baht in bail money and was released.
On Feb 11, she attended Phuket Provincial Court where she was charged and fined 827 baht. She was then asked to go to Phuket Immigration to collect her passport – or so she thought. When she arrived at the immigration office, she said she was informed she would be transferred to Bangkok and deported. Ms.Cornu c laims she was held at an immigration detention centre for four days where she shared a cell with up to 60 other woman in what she described as dire conditions. Karon Poli ce Chief Col Prasarn Hankotha confirmed to the Phuket News that Ms Cornu was arrested and fined for being found with an e-cigarette and that she was transferred to Bangkok for deportation. However, he denied the accusation that officers had demanded 40,000 baht from the Frenchwoman.
Ms.Cornu added that the whole ordeal cost her more than 280,000 ba ht in legal fees and travel expenses after she was held in Thailand, forcing her to miss her flight home. The news of Ms Cornu’s deportation has resulted in e-cigarette users in Thailand calling on the Thai authorities to quickly change the laws and regulate vaping. “The news [Ms Cornu’s deportation] hurts the country’s image as a tourist destination.
It’s a result of the ban on e-cigarettes, which is causing confusion in law enforcement,” Maris Karanyawat, representing the End Cigarette Smoke Thailand group, said in a press statement. He said th e network wanted the Commerce Ministry’s Department of Foreign Trade to quickly find appropriate regulations that could replace the ban on e-cigarettes. Thailand, in 2014 banned the import, sale and s ervicing of e-cigarettes, with violators facing punishment based on notifications from the Commerce Ministry as well as orders from the Consumer Protection Board.