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Smoking On The Rise, Smokers Getting Younger In Thailand

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BANGKOK – Smoking and alcohol consumption is on the rise in Thailand, with smokers getting younger.

Spending on cigarette rose by 2.5 per cent to 15.693 billion baht, according a report on the social situation by the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB).

NESDB deputy secretary-general Chutinart Wongsuban said close surveillance should be made on the youth’s accessibility to cigarettes as research found the average age to begin smoking continued to fall to 15.6 year-old in 2014 from 16.8 year-old in 2007.

It reflected a lack of law enforcement as Thailand prohibited selling cigarettes to buyers aged lower than 18, a law which existed for more than 20 years, said the report.

Instead, cigarette sellers have a strategy to encourage the youth to smoke, offering them small quantities (unpacked cigarettes) which was easy to buy even though the buyers have low purchasing power, noted the report.

There are 97 countries currently imposing a law to prohibit the sale of cigarettes in small quantities, including Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

On alcohol, Thais spent 38.19 billion baht in alcohol consumption in the first quarter of the year, an increase of 10.4 per cent as compared to the same period last year. – BERNAMA

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