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Tourist Arrested and Deported for Vaping in Thailand

Tourist Arrested and Deported for Vaping in Thailand


Tourist Arrested and Deported for Vaping in Thailand

In some parts of the world, vaping is frowned upon so much that it could result in fines, arrests, or even deportation. Recently in Thailand, a French tourist got the worst of it after being stopped for vaping, setting off a nightmare scenario that ended her family's vacation on a sour note.

Cecilia Cornu was on vacation with her family and fiance in the Thai resort town of Karon on Phuket Island, near the Indian Ocean, when police stopped her for vaping on a scooter with her fiance on January 30. According to Phuket News, police then confiscated her vape and demanded a bribe of 40,000 Baht (about $1,260 USD).

When Cornu refused to pay, she was arrested, charged, and released on B100,000 bond. Her passport was then seized and a trial date was set for February 11, long after her scheduled return to France. After being forced to remain in the country an additional 10 days, she was fined B827 ($26) and sent to immigration services, where she believed her passport was to be returned.

Instead, the story takes an even darker turn. Instead of returning her passport straight away, Cornu found herself being  transferred over 500 miles to the capital city of Bangkok. There, she said she was held for four days in a dirty, crowded prison waiting to be deported.

According to Cornu, she shared a cell with 60 other women, and slept on a floor with no sheets or blankets before she was shipped back to France. She said that the total cost of all the legal fees and travel expenses was about 8,000 euros (B286,000 or just over $9,000 USD).

Thailand has enforced a complete ban on vapor products since 2014, when the country was taken over by a military junta under the leadership of General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Commander of the Royal Thai Army (RTA). Following the change in government, the military issued a warning to tourists not to bring vapor products under the threat of a maximum ten year prison sentence.

However, many tourists aren’t aware of these changes to laws or the current ban which has resulted in many arrests. In 2017, a warning was sent to British tourists planning on visiting the Thailand, telling them to leave their vapes at home. That same year a Swiss tourist was charged with importation for bringing a vape for personal use into the country.

The police in Karon dispute some of the Cornu’s story, denying that a bribe demand was made by the arresting officers. They also defended their decision to confiscate Cornu's passport to keep her from leaving the country before trial.

Last year, it seemed like there was a chance that Thailand would reconsider their complete ban on the importation, sales, and use of vapes. The Thai vaping advocacy group ECST asked the Thai Office of the Ombudsman to reconsider the ban and filed an official complaint. That complaint is, as far as its known, is still under review.

It's always best to "know before you go" when it comes to local laws and customs. Here's our latest guide to vape laws across the globe, look for an updated version here on the Breazy blog soon.