Youth Smoking and the Rise of Illegal Vaping in Thailand

youth smoking illegal vaping

Survey Reveals High Percentage of Young Vape Users

A recent survey conducted by the Department of Health Service Support (DHSS) has uncovered that an estimated 9.1% of young people in Thailand are using e-cigarettes. The study, which surveyed 61,688 people nationwide, showed that 14.6% of young people in Bangkok use vapes, making the capital the highest among the 13 areas studied.

Peer Pressure: The Leading Cause Behind Vaping

According to the survey results, most young people begin using e-cigarettes due to the influence of their friends and peer pressure. In fact, 92.2% of the respondents stated that they started using e-cigarettes with their friends. Moreover, 3.2% started with extended family members, and 1.6% with their immediate family.

Illegal Yet Widely Available

Despite being illegal in the country, vaping devices can be found easily at street stalls, particularly in popular tourist areas. This accessibility contributes to the high rates of vape usage among young people.

Regional Breakdown of Vaping Rates

Aside from Bangkok, other areas in Thailand also reported high rates of e-cigarette usage. Area Health (AH) No.3 and AH No.9, which include provinces such as Chai Nat, Kamphaeng Phet, Nakhon Sawan, Pichit, Uthai Thani, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Burirum, and Surin, reported 13.6% usage rates.

Similarly, AH No.4 (Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Nakhon Nayok) had a rate of 13.2%, and AH No.5 (Bueng Kan, Loei, Nong Khai, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Udon Thani, Nakhon Phanom, and Sakon Nakhon) reported an alarmingly high rate of 12%.

The Link Between Smoking and Narcotic Use

Another study cited by Surachete Phosaeng, deputy secretary-general of the Thailand Youth Institute (TYI), revealed that 95.4% of young people detained for narcotic use smoked cigarettes, while 79.3% used e-cigarettes. Among the latter group, 30.5% used them daily.

Furthermore, 80.7% of these individuals stated that cigarettes and vapes were the first products they became physically addicted to. Additionally, 76% said they had gone on to experiment with narcotics after becoming addicted to nicotine products.

Health Risks for Minors and Anti-Smoking Campaigns

Wannapha Narawet from the Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Centre emphasized that minors who use vaping devices may develop faster-growing and more intense health concerns than adults, as they are still in the developmental stage. To address the risks associated with smoking and passive smoking, the DHSS has launched media campaigns and enlisted the support of the Young Health Volunteers group to discourage young people from taking up smoking.