The use of graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging and introduction of tobacco taxes have been effective measures in reducing the demand for tobacco products, World Health Organization (WHO) has praised Lao Government’s implementation.
Ministry of Health in cooperation with WHO and ASEAN Tobacco Control Alliance in Vientiane Capital on May 26 organized a meeting on various achievements in implementation the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and marked the 29th anniversary of World No Tobacco Day.
The smoking rate reached 27.9 percent in Laos or over 800,000 people of aged 15 up, making Laos second runner-up in ASEAN countries, while the dead rate by smoking covered 4,387 people per year or about 13 people per day, said Minister of Health, Dr Bounkong Syhavong.
Over the past 11 years, Lao government has not well implemented and enforced the law on tobacco control, especially smoking-free area, collection of tobacco tax, accumulation of money for the Tobacco Control Fund, and other measures on tobacco control despite Laos being a membership of International Convention on Tobacco Control and proclamation of law on tobacco control for the last eight years, Dr Bounkong said.
Tobacco use was rising fast in many countries where control measures are relatively new. But it is not just health that tobacco damages. Tobacco use is a major barrier to sustainable development on several fronts including food security, gender equity, education, economic growth and the environment, said Acting WHO Representative, Dr Dapeng Luo.
Globally tobacco kills more than 7.2 million people every year with over 80% of them living in low- or middle-income countries. These countries bear almost 40 percent of the global economic cost of smoking from health expenditures and lost productivity, estimated at over US$1.4 trillion.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for increased multi-sectoral collaboration and support from other ministries to implement the WHO Framework Convention on tobacco control. Doing so will play a major part in meeting the Sustainable Development Goal target of reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030.
Thanks to legislative measures, smoking has decreased in several countries. A WHO report shows that the proportion of male smokers is going down in 125 countries. Non-smoking is becoming the norm.
As tobacco use has declined in many countries, so has the will to enhance control. The tobacco industry is eager to recruit the next generation of smokers, especially targeting the youth and women.
The use of tobacco among young people aged 13-15 years old has decrease slightly from 8% in 2011 to 6.4% in 2016. However some young people have shifted to use electronic cigarettes which is up to 5.0% of male and 3.7% of female.
For those aged 15 years and older, there is an increase in the number of male smokers from 43% in 2012 to 50.8% in 2015 but female smokers fell from 8.4 % in 2012 to 7.1 % in 2015. 80-90 % of smokers initiate use before the age of 18.
We need to remain true to the evidence that tobacco kills and be bold in implementing measures that protect our young people. We need to adopt measures that will reduce the demand for tobacco products and promote a healthier, more sustainable world, said Dr Dapeng.
On World No Tobacco Day, Dr Dapeng urged the government of Lao PDR and its partners to work together to fight against the emerging epidemic and reduce the disease burden of non-communicable diseases resulting from tobacco use.
Source: Lao News Agency