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NLA raises legal age for tobacco to 20


The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) agreed in principle on Friday to raise the legal age for purchasing cigarettes from 18 to 20 under an amended law regulating tobacco.

A total of 159 NLA members voted for the measure on Friday, with five abstentions, increasing the minimum legal age to buy cigarettes under the bill to amend the Tobacco Control Act.

The amendment was proposed by Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn in a bid to cut the number of teenage smokers.

A 21-member committee will be set up and given 15 days to scrutinise the bill.

Dr Piyasakol said the current Tobacco Control Act and the Non-Smoker’s Health Protection Act were obsolete and could not keep up with the behaviour of smokers.

Enforcement of both laws were also ineffective, he said. However, the Non-Smoker’s Health Act has not been amended.

Under the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, any law associated with tobacco must be amended to protect the health of citizens, particularly youth, he added.

NLA member Wallop Tangkana-nurak said the amendment would help steer children and teenagers away from tobacco and smoking.

Many international tobacco firms have held promotional activities targeting young people aged under 20, he said, citing statistics showing smokers are getting younger every year.

Despite the majority of the NLA members agreeing with the bill, others expressed some reservations about it, saying it would would reduce demand for tobacco and put many growers out of work.

Gen Danai Meechuwet, chairman of the NLA committee on agriculture, said measures to provide assistance for tobacco farmers should be devised as well.

He also proposed establishing a subsidy fund for tobacco planters or encourage them to grow other crops.

Meanwhile, NLA member Montien Boonton also proposed devising measures to limit tobacco farming areas as well as new approaches to publicise the dangers of smoking among the illiterate.

Dr Piyasakol said he believed that after the draft amendment bill has passed, the health condition of Thais in general will greatly improve.

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