SATTAHIP, Thailand – A raid on an e-cigarette store in Sattahip has sparked controversy and confusion among the local residents. The store was targeted by military naval officers and local administrative officials on February 9, as part of a crackdown on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes.
According to witnesses, the authorities initially found a large amount of e-cigarettes in the store, which is usually open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and serves mostly young customers. However, instead of seizing the products and arresting the owner, the officers told the shop to get rid of the inventory and left. They returned later to conduct a formal raid, but only confiscated five e-cigarettes and took the owner into custody.
The bizarre turn of events raised questions about the motives and methods of the authorities, who did not explain why they allowed the store to dispose of most of the evidence. Some residents speculated that there might have been some collusion involved, while others wondered if the authorities were trying to avoid public backlash.
The e-cigarette shop has been operating for several years in Plutaluang Sub-district, and has gained a loyal following of e-cigarette users, especially among the youth. E-cigarettes are illegal in Thailand, and can result in fines or imprisonment for both sellers and buyers. However, the law is often ignored or poorly enforced, as many shops continue to sell e-cigarettes openly without any interference from the authorities.
The raid on the e-cigarette shop was part of a larger operation to curb the use of e-cigarettes among the youth in the Sattahip area, which has seen a rise in popularity of the devices. The authorities claim that e-cigarettes are harmful to health and can lead to addiction or other substance abuse. They also warn that e-cigarettes can pose a security threat, as some of them can be modified to deliver drugs or explosives.
The authorities urge the public to cooperate with the law and report any illegal activities involving e-cigarettes. They also promise to intensify their efforts to ensure legal compliance and protect the health and safety of the community. However, some residents remain sceptical and dissatisfied with the selective and inconsistent enforcement of the law, and call for a more transparent and fair approach to the issue.