MORE than 200,000 young Thais buy cigarettes one at a time because they can't afford to buy packs of 20, a public-health researcher from Mahidol University has revealed.
Saranya Benjakul cited a 2011 survey that found more than 400,000 Thais aged between 15 and 18 were smokers.
The poll results were revealed as the government gets ready to pass a new tobacco-control bill into law.
Each day, young people smoke about 1.6 million cigarettes, she said, adding that prohibition of the sale of individual cigarettes would help reduce the number of new smokers.
Nanthawan Wichitwathakarn, a public-health lecturer at Thammasat University, urged tobacco business operators to stop objecting to the ban on sale of individual cigarettes in the bill for the sake of children.
She said the sale of cigarettes to those aged between 15 and 18 amounted to Bt1.8 billion (S$75.6 million) a year.
Nanthawan said the sale of individual cigarettes was encouraging young people to smoke because they could not see the warning messages and disgusting pictures on cigarette packs.
The sale of individual cigarettes has already been prohibited in 97 countries, including Laos, Singapore and Brunei, she added.