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Successful countering of tobacco industry efforts to overturn Thailand's ENDS ban


Background After Thailand enacted laws to ban the import and sale of all types of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS, including e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs)) in 2015, pro-ENDS advocacy groups pressured the government to lift the ban, particularly after Philip Morris International (PMI) started promoting its HTP IQOS in 2017.

Methods We reviewed information related to ENDS in Thailand between 2014 and 2019 from Thai newspaper articles, meeting minutes and letters submitted to government agencies, websites and social media platforms of pro-ENDS networks and Thai tobacco control organisations.

Results The tobacco industry and the pro-ENDS groups used five tactics to try to reverse the Thai ban on ENDS: creating front groups, lobbying decision-makers, running public relations campaigns, seeking to discredit tobacco control advocates and funding pro-tobacco harm reduction research. ENDS Cigarette Smoking Thailand (ECST), a pro-ENDS group in Thailand, worked in parallel to Philip Morris Thailand Limited (PMTL) to oppose the ban. The group connected with international coalitions that promote harm reduction through the PMI-funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.

Conclusion Although ECST and PMTL continuously worked to revoke the ban since 2017, the government still kept ENDS illegal as of October 2020. This decision resulted from the strong commitment and collaboration among Thai tobacco control organisations and their shared vision to protect the public’s health from harmful tobacco products. The similar strategies used by the pro-ENDS movement in Thailand and the tobacco companies could inform health advocates and policy-makers in other low and middle income countries facing pressure to market ENDS.

  • advocacy
  • electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • globalisation
  • low/middle income country
  • tobacco industry

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. All data used to prepare this paper are available from the cited sources.

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