A Swiss tourist has been arrested and charged with illegally importing e-cigarettes after he was allegedly detained for vaping on the street.
The news of the arrest comes from StattQualm, an e-cig manufacturer in Switzerland, who posted a message on their official Facebook page that a “close friend” of the company had been detained in Thailand.
The lengthy, and at times overly dramatic, statement claims the “close friend” was arrested on July 26th for vaping in public, led away, and jailed for six days.
It’s also claimed the Swiss man, who wasn’t named, was “completely cut off from the environment, without real contact and under degrading and humiliating conditions”.
According to the statement he is facing five years in jail as he is accused of illegally importing e-cigarette into the country.
The story was reported by Minuten, a free daily newspaper in Switzerland, who asked Chris Lusser, CEO of StattQualm, for a quote but he declined stating the privacy of the person involved had to be respected and anything he said may jeopardise legal proceedings.
The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) confirmed to Minuten the arrest of a Swiss citizen in Thailand. “The Swiss embassy in Thailand is in contact with local authorities and supports this Swiss in the context of consular protection.”
Since 2014 the importation, sale and production for sale of e-cigarettes is illegal with offenders liable to 10 year jail sentences and / or a fine of five times the value of the goods.
The five year sentence mentioned is linked to the import/export ban, so while there is no defined law forbidding the possession of e-cigarettes they fall into a category of goods that have not had tax levied on them therefore making possession illegal.