Thailand’s Alert on Toy-Shaped Vapes: A Call for Vigilance

Thailand’s academic community is raising alarms over a new vaping trend that targets the youth with e-cigarettes disguised as toys. These “toy pods,” resembling popular cartoon characters, are increasingly finding their way into schools, prompting a call for stricter regulations and awareness.

Toy pods are the latest iteration in e-cigarette design, crafted to appeal to younger demographics with their playful and innocent appearance. These devices, often indistinguishable from actual toys, are causing concern among parents and educators alike.

The Tobacco Control Research and Knowledge Management Centre (TRC) has identified these toy pods as a significant threat due to their high nicotine content and potential to deliver up to 15,000 puffs. Their widespread popularity has even reached primary school students, with reports of first graders carrying them.

The Marketing Menace

The strategic marketing of these products is particularly insidious. E-cigarette businesses are targeting younger customers by opening shops near schools and universities and launching promotions on social media platforms that resonate with the youth’s preferences and lifestyles.

A recent report uncovered 309 online vendors illegally selling e-cigarettes through social media channels, including X, Facebook, and Instagram, between January and February. This highlights the urgent need for the Thai government to continue enforcing bans on e-cigarette sales and imports.

Health Hazards and Legal Loopholes

Nicotine exposure from e-cigarettes poses severe risks to children’s health, affecting their hearts, brain cells, memories, concentration, and respiratory systems. It can lead to seizures and heart failure. Despite these dangers, 70 e-cigarette shops were found within close proximity to educational institutions in Bangkok, exploiting legal loopholes and lax enforcement.

The TRC urges the government to take decisive action against these establishments and develop safety mechanisms to protect the youth from these hidden hazards.

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