Tobacco companies violate law and exploit Lao PDR

Bangkok, 5 February 2018: Imperial-controlled Lao Tobacco Company Ltd. and Lao-China Hongta Good Luck Tobacco Company Ltd. are violating Lao law to hide the truth about tobacco harms.

Based on monitoring by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) in Vientiane Capital City in January, both tobacco companies have been violating Lao PDR’s Pictorial Health Warnings (PHWs) Regulation issued by the Ministry of Health in May 2016 requiring all tobacco companies to print 75% health warnings on cigarette packs, an international best practice and a crucial investment in the health of Lao people.

“The Lao government gave the tobacco industry 19 months, more than ample time to comply, but these companies have chosen to undermine the law and ignore the government. We demand that both companies respect the Lao people by complying with the law to print 75% health warnings on cigarette packs immediately, and we call on Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and his government to take urgent action to compel these violators to comply,” said Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee, Executive Director of SEATCA.

“SEATCA’s survey showed that until today, the most widely sold brands, A Deng and Dok Mai Deng, produced by these two companies, are still without the PHWs required by law. Their disregard of the law is unacceptable, given that after their request for delay, the government already granted three extensions of the implementation deadline or 19 months in total to comply. This is a humiliating contrast to other ASEAN countries, which gave tobacco companies only three to six months to comply with their PHWs regulation,” remarked Ritthiphakdee.

“By not printing these warnings, the tobacco companies are keeping smokers addicted and tricking the youth into smoking by hiding the truth about the health harms of tobacco. More than 73,000 adolescent boys and half of all men smoke in Laos. About 28% of the population lives below the poverty line, with one third of the population living on US$ 1.25 a day. This means money for basic household expenses is spent on tobacco, and breadwinners are at high risk of financial ruin from tobacco-caused diseases and death,” said Ritthiphakdee.

PHWs are easy to understand and are vital to educate smokers and the public on the harms caused by tobacco use and, thereby, help motivate quit attempts and discourage Lao PDR’s vulnerable groups, particularly the poor and the youth, from smoking. PHWs are also remarkably cost-effective communication channels, especially among the low literacy population.

 

Contact:

Wendell C Balderas, Media and Communications Manager – SEATCA
Email: wendell@seatca.org | Mobile: +63 999 881 2117 ##

 

About SEATCA 

SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the evidence-based tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014.