Smoking & vaping in Pattaya

The government in Thailand is on an anti-smoking campaign. Despite this it is still more common to have smoking in bars, with the majority allowing this. In particular, Walking Street and LK gogos allow smoking as a large proportion of the clientele enjoy smoking. Some bars such as Baccara and Palace which are popular with Asian customers are known for being particularly smoke-filled, with non smokers advised to avoid these venues if you dont enjoy secondhand smoke. Many girls themselves smoke, either due to preference or because they are constantly exposed to secondhand smoke anyway. The same is true on soi 6, you can see many girls openly enjoying a cigarette, whereas in agogo bars the managers generally prefer to keep it out of view. It is still common to see a girl pop outside the front of the bar and have a quick smoke break. So, smoking is very much normalised in Pattaya. Even new girls who start with an anti-smoking or neutral attitude will quickly be drawn in either by peer pressure or simple daily exposure to a smoking culture. Tobacco products are cheap in Thailand with low-end cigarettes from 40 baht to brand names such as Marlboros around 130 baht. Still, if you are coming from a duty free area such as Singapore, it is worthwhile to bring in the maximum 200 cigarettes. Packets sold in Thailand have graphic warning labels, compared to the text only warnings on Duty free products.

Vaping is also common, and some girls can be seen vaping inside clubs. However, vaping is highly illegal in Thailand with everyone involved being exposed to fines and penalties, from the vaper to the owner of the venue to the shop that sold the vaping equipment. For example the British government website states that:

“You can’t bring vaporisers (like e-cigarettes and e-baraku) or refills into Thailand. These items are likely to be confiscated and you could be fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years if convicted. The sale or supply of e-cigarettes and similar devices is also banned and you could face a heavy fine or up to 5 years imprisonment if found guilty. Several British Nationals have been arrested for possession of vaporisers and e-cigarettes.”

if you must vape, it is recommended not to try to bring into the country. Buy locally from a vendor that is under the radar or has an arrangement with local authorities. Do vape behind closed doors only, and not in bars. Owners will not appreciate you vaping in their bars because they can be fined also under Thai law for allowing it. In nightclubs it is possible to see Thais doing it but this is not recommended for foreigners. If a girl offers her vape to you, you can try, do not keep it in your possession. Some clubs definitely do bag search in addition to the standard pat down process.

The much-publicised beach smoking ban is selectively enforced. Generally it is a good bet to not smoke on the beach, since it is considered a tourist spot police are more likely to issue a fine than areas that are more off the beaten track.


richard coxley

Richard Coxley is a business consultant with over 12 years experience in Asia. He enjoys playing golf. He has travelled extensively in Thailand and currently resides in Pratumnak, Pattaya.

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