WASHINGTON (Oct. 5, 2020)—The United Kingdom (UK) and Thailand are two countries that are often praised for their tobacco regulation. However, the way the two countries approach novel tobacco products including e-cigarettes differs significantly.

While the UK and Thailand adopted similar approaches to reduce the smoking rates of combustible tobacco products, the UK has seen a more substantial decline in cigarette use than Thailand. This may be due in part to the one area where the two nations’ approaches differ: e-cigarette use. Unlike the UK, which acknowledges the role of e-cigarettes in overall tobacco control strategies and affirms the health benefits of smokers switching to e-cigarettes, Thailand recently reaffirmed its ban on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).

In a new policy study, R Street senior fellow of harm reduction Alec Ulasevich and former research fellow Chelsea Boyd find that adopting the UK model may help Thailand to reduce their cigarette smoking rates, leading to improvements in overall population health.

“The United Kingdom’s approach to cessation which endorses harm reduction through the use of safer alternatives to combustible cigarettes stands in contrast to the Thailand policy of banning e-cigarettes and messaging against their use. It is likely this differentiating factor that moved the smoking rates down in the United Kingdom,” said Ulasevich and Boyd.

You can read the full policy paper, “Exploring the Differences in Tobacco Policy between the United Kingdom and Thailand,” here.