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E-Cigarette Use Among Thai Youth Soars: The Alarming Trend and Call for Action

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Imagine stepping into a world where the grass seems greener, and the skies a tad bit bluer. It’s almost perfect until you notice something startling amidst this idyllic scene: a group of schoolchildren, their giggles filling the air, with e-cigarettes in hand. This is not a scene from a futuristic novel; it’s a reality that has unfurled in Thai schools over the last seven years, a reality where the use of e-cigarettes among youngsters has surged exponentially.

A recent seminar, a convergence of minds from the Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education, the World Health Organization, and the Tobacco Control Network, threw light on this troubling trend. The findings presented were an eye-opener. A comprehensive study, involving the candid responses of 6,700 students, unveiled a shocking fivefold increase in vaping among Thai youth. From a modest 3.3% in 2015, it has skyrocketed to 17.6% in 2022.

But what’s feeding this sudden rise? The study points a finger at the tobacco industry’s cunning strategies. Imagine a world of e-cigarettes inhabited by a myriad of flavors, each crafted meticulously to ensnare young minds. The digital realm, too, is not untouched by this – with online advertisements beckoning children with the allure of vaping. It seems the industry has set its sights on the playground for its next customers.

Delving deeper, the seminar shed light on the youths’ perception of e-cigarettes. To them, these devices are the lesser evil compared to their fiery counterparts, conventional cigarettes. This perception, misguided as it is, has led many to swap out the smoke for vapor, reducing tobacco use dramatically from 72.2% to a still alarming 59%.

However, the study also pointed out a troubling trend: a decline in awareness about the dangers of tobacco. Whether it’s the lackluster anti-tobacco campaigns or the less impactful warnings on cigarette packets, the message isn’t getting through as it used to. Awareness plummeted from 74.9% to a concerning 61.3%.

Dr Chayanan Sittibut, leading the charge against this epidemic as the director of the Department of Disease Control’s Tobacco Products Control Board, is calling for a reinforcement of the ramparts. “We can’t let our guard down. E-cigarettes are a menace we cannot afford to welcome,” he declared, emphasizing the urgent need for heightened controls and unyielding resistance to legalizing these products.

But it’s not just about bolstering defenses; it’s about reaching out and fostering a shared understanding of the peril among the youth. And in this digital age, what better way to do this than through the very channels that captivate their attention day in, day out – social media.

It’s not just the digital world that’s complicit in this troubling trend. The real world, with its flesh and bone actors, plays its part too. Suwimon Chanpremprung, a torchbearer from the Smoke-Free School Network, recounted how vaping had infiltrated primary schools. “Some brave fifth-graders have turned entrepreneurs, selling puffs of vapor for a few baht, right under our noses,” she lamented.

And then there are the adults, the supposed gatekeepers. Some teachers, perhaps unaware or indifferent, and some parents, misguided by the myth of a ‘safer’ alternative, are inadvertently contributing to the growing cloud of vapor among the youth.

So, what’s the way forward? The answer, as echoed by voices like Ms. Suwimon’s, lies in casting a tighter net of regulation over e-cigarettes, in shattering the myths that fuel their use, and most importantly, in protecting our children from becoming unwitting accomplices in this hazardous haze.

The conversation initiated by this seminar is not just a wake-up call; it’s a clarion call for action. It’s a reminder that amidst this battle of clouds, the future of our children hangs in the balance. And it’s a battle we must win, not just for their health but for the clear skies of tomorrow.


  1. EcoWarrior92 January 30, 2024

    This is exactly why we need stricter regulations on e-cigarettes! It’s not just an issue in Thailand but a global problem. The tobacco industry is clearly targeting the next generation, and we can’t stand by and watch.

    • LibertarianMind January 30, 2024

      Stricter regulations? That’s not the solution. It’s about educating the youth and promoting personal responsibility. More regulations only increase the allure of forbidden fruit.

      • EcoWarrior92 January 30, 2024

        I appreciate your viewpoint on personal responsibility, but when an industry aggressively markets to kids, it’s beyond just making informed choices. We need both education and regulation.

      • MarketWatcher January 30, 2024

        Exactly, @LibertarianMind, overregulation often leads to a black market. Look at the prohibition era. It’s education that’s key, not squeezing the industry with more rules.

    • TruthSpeaker January 30, 2024

      But aren’t e-cigarettes a healthier alternative to smoking? Maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way. Reducing harm is also a form of progress.

      • HealthFirst January 30, 2024

        Healthier alternative? The long-term effects are still unknown. It’s reckless to consider them safe, especially for the youth whose brains are still developing.

  2. SkepticalParent January 30, 2024

    It’s troubling that some parents see e-cigarettes as a ‘safer’ alternative. There’s a massive gap in awareness here that needs to be addressed ASAP.

    • InformedMom January 30, 2024

      I couldn’t agree more. I was shocked to learn that some of my kid’s friends’ parents actually buy these for their children. It’s like they’re missing the whole point.

  3. TechAdvocate January 30, 2024

    The focus on digital advertising in this article is interesting. The digital landscape really does shape youth behavior. Perhaps digital literacy and critical thinking should be taught more aggressively in schools.

    • DigitalSkeptic January 31, 2024

      While I support digital literacy, it’s naive to think that alone will solve the problem. The allure of vaping isn’t just because of online ads; it’s a complex issue involving peer pressure, the search for identity, and more.

      • TechAdvocate January 31, 2024

        Fair point, but understanding how digital media works can equip them to resist such pressures. It’s about giving them the tools to critically evaluate what they see online.

      • Nostalgic January 31, 2024

        Remember when kids would sneak a cigarette in the schoolyard? Now it’s vapes. The problem isn’t new, just the method. Focus on why kids feel the need to engage in these behaviors.

  4. JohnnyBravo January 31, 2024

    I remember sneaking cigarettes when I was younger. It was all about looking cool. These e-cigarettes just seem like the modern equivalent. Maybe we’re overthinking this.

    • ModernThinker January 31, 2024

      It’s not the same though. The flavors and marketing directly target kids. It’s not just about rebellion anymore; it’s manipulation by big tobacco.

      • JohnnyBravo January 31, 2024

        Hadn’t thought of it that way. The flavor thing does seem especially sneaky. Maybe there does need to be some action there.

    • OldSchool January 31, 2024

      Looking cool or not, it’s a rite of passage. Kids will always find a way to rebel. Better e-cigarettes than something stronger, right?

      • ConcernedCitizen January 31, 2024

        That’s a dangerous way to think. ‘Better than…’ is a slippery slope. Why not aim for no substance abuse?

  5. Casey January 31, 2024

    This article is an eye-opener. I didn’t realize how serious the situation with vaping has become, especially among the youth. How did we let it get this bad?

  6. VapeLover January 31, 2024

    I think vaping is being unfairly demonized. It’s helped a lot of people quit smoking. This feels like a panic over something that’s not fully understood yet.

    • ScienceBeliever January 31, 2024

      It’s not about demonizing; it’s about being cautious. Yes, it might help some quit smoking, but introducing non-smokers, especially kids, to nicotine is a worrying trend.

  7. UnderageThinker January 31, 2024

    As a teen, I see a lot of my friends vaping because it’s ‘cool’ and they think it’s safer. It’s sad how trapped they are by these perceptions. We need more real talk in schools about this.

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