WHO Awards Laos For Efforts To Curb Smoking

Source: Vientiane Times

The Ministry of Health will continue to work with international partners to reduce tobacco smoking in Laos even though there has been some success in this field.

Tobacco is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases. To address this, every year the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises individuals or organisations for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control, such as research, capacity building, promotion of policy or legislation, and advocacy to enhance tobacco control measures.

This was the message delivered by Minister of Health and President of the National Committee on Tobacco Control, Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, at a ceremony on Monday to present the 2018 WHO World No Tobacco Day Award to Laos.

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The award was presented by WHO representative to Laos, Dr Juliet Fleischl.

Assoc. Prof. Dr Bounkong said the award was a clear recognition of Laos’ achievements in tobacco control and the contribution of Laos towards the advancements of the objectives of the Global Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“I am pleased that Laos has taken many progressive steps towards a comprehensive strategy for tobacco control,” he said. After the issuance of the Minister of Health’s regulation in 2016 requiring tobacco companies to print a pictorial health warning that covered 75 percent of cigarette packets, it was wonderful to see this measure now being implemented for most imported and locally produced cigarettes, he added.

“We know that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable deaths, especially those caused by cardiovascular diseases, which is the theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day,” he said.

The minister noted that many types of smoking and smokeless tobacco products were used in Laos, which made it difficult to harmonise taxation and regulations for controlling tobacco use.

More than 73,000 adolescent boys and half of all men in Laos smoke, and money needed for basic household expenses is spent on tobacco.

Health warnings on cigarettes packets inform smokers about the health hazards of smoking, encourage smokers to quit, and prevent nonsmokers from starting to smoke. Graphic warnings on tobacco products are an ideal way of communicating with smokers because they pair the warning directly with smoking behaviour.

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