Health experts: Tobacco use causes a loss of economic value of up to 3.6 billion kip. Each year, about 6,800 people die from tobacco-related diseases in Lao PDR.

17 November 2022

World Health Organization

Tobacco use causes a loss of up to 3.6 billion kip. Each year, about 6,800 people die from tobacco-related diseases in the Lao PDR – and these deaths can be prevented – said a team of regional and international health experts who visited Vientiane this week to discuss effective and group-based tobacco control measures. This visit and work in Lao PDR is to support the implementation of the revised tobacco control law in accordance with the International Convention on Tobacco Control (or WHO FCTC).

Working with the Ministry of Health and related ministries, the expert team in conjunction with the relevant departments to discuss tobacco control related to tobacco tax, regulations related to the tobacco industry, new types of tobacco including electronic cigarettes, communication for health, cooperation between various sectors, packaging and labeling of tobacco products.

Welcomed by the Deputy Minister, Ministry of Health, Dr. Provide Thongsana and he said: The Ministry has fully committed to implement Lao PDR’s obligations to the International Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) by increasing the implementation of the law. and tobacco control policies and ensure that laws and policies are implemented strictly, one life is of great value and does not deserve to die from diseases caused by tobacco. We have worked hard to research and find better ways to address the problem of new tobacco products, reduce access and use and increase enforcement of tobacco control measures to protect our communities and support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The main topic is the report on tobacco control/case studies on the implementation of the International Convention on Tobacco Control, which is a joint study of the expert team in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The results of the study determined the direction and methods to avoid economic and health losses worth up to 10 trillion kip in the next 15 years with strict and effective tobacco control efforts and ways to solve various obstacles created by the industry. Tobacco.

Mr. Kete Lannan, Senior Legal Officer from the Secretariat of the International Convention on Tobacco Control highlighted some of the challenges encountered as follows:

“The Lao PDR has the lowest tobacco tax rate in the ASEAN countries and in the Western Pacific region of the World Health Organization. We know together that increasing the price of cigarettes is an effective measure to reduce smoking, price and tax measures can also protect Lao society from serious diseases caused by tobacco, premature death and is also a good measure to increase revenue for the government.

“In 2016, the Lao PDR issued an agreement of the Minister, the Ministry of Health, regarding graphic health warnings on cigarette packets and bottles. Tobacco companies have tried to drag out and prolong the implementation of the warning—a tactic used by tobacco companies around the world to block the implementation of effective tobacco control measures. We need to implement these important measures without delay, such as standard cigarette packaging and bottles as required by law. It means national tobacco control to help save lives.”

“While the Lao PDR has taken the important step of becoming one of more than 30 countries around the world to ban the sale of tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, such tobacco products are being sold through social media and are easily accessible, including to children and young people who misunderstand them as modern tobacco products. Unfortunately, these products are misleading to many users – seriously dangerous to health and risk of nicotine addiction for a new generation.

Mrs. Ying-Ru Lo, representative of the World Health Organization, said: “There is clear data that smoking kills people almost 10 times compared to the death of road accidents in Lao PDR every year. Almost 7,000 people died from diseases caused by tobacco, including our fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers and children.

“Lao PDR has made great progress and is able to secure enormous health and economic benefits with strict tobacco control – and we are proud to continue to support the Ministry of Health in its tobacco control efforts. This effort requires the cooperation of many sectors, including tax, police and finance and planning. The cooperation of all sectors of the public sector and society as a whole can protect people from diseases caused by tobacco.”

In this visit and work, there are experts from the Secretariat of the International Convention on Tobacco Control, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Organization, and the ASEAN Tobacco Control Association. and the Non-Smoking Foundation of Thailand and the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand.