The minimum age to buy cigarettes would be raised to 20 and other tougher controls would be enacted under a tobacco-control bill endorsed by the Thai cabinet.
The cabinet recently approved legislation that would also outlaw the sale of individual cigarettes, requiring people to buy them by the pack. The bill would also ban manufacturers and importers from sponsoring social activities, and models promoting their products would be prohibited.
Deputy government spokesman Maj Gen Sansern Kaewkumnerd said the draft would be sent to the council of state to double-check it adheres to guidelines issued by the World Health Organization. The Action on Smoking and Health Foundation expressed no concerns about the decision to allow the state legal-advisory agency to review the draft, saying it was only procedural. Dr Prakit Vateesatokij, executive secretary of the foundation, said raising the age of buyers will deter youths from smoking due to the increased difficultly of accessing smokes. Thailand has 11.5 million smokers and sees 100,000 new young smokers start every year. If approved, the bill will replace current tobacco-control and health protection laws on the books since 1992.