Source: Vientiane Times
Health officials have called for stronger campaigns on the dangers of smoking, advising the use of television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and online channels to help reduce smoking among young people.
The government has ordered the Lao Tobacco Company to comply with regulations and policies relating to tobacco control but has been unable to make much progress in reducing smoking because of the influence of the tobacco industry, Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Snong Thongsna has said.
The deputy minister was speaking at a meeting on tobacco control to share lessons in efforts to create smoke-free workplaces and public areas. The meeting was held in the run-up to World No Tobacco Day on May 31, as an opportunity to raise awareness of the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use.
Dr Snong said the media can play an important role in explaining the need to protect children from the cycle of addiction, by convincing parents to cut down on smoking or quit the habit. More must be done to persuade people to take the issue seriously and give up smoking, he stressed.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control offers specific principles and policy options on the promotion of economically viable alternatives for tobacco workers, growers, and individual sellers, and on enhancing the protection of the environment and people’s health.
Reducing tobacco use plays a major role in global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030.
“We can make a difference in reducing the global cancer burden,” Dr Snong said. “We need stronger government support to implement tobacco control policies, and enforcement of the law is the obvious next step.”
On World No Tobacco Day next week, WHO and public health champions around the world will come together under the theme “We need food, not tobacco”.
The 2023 global campaign aims to raise awareness about alternative crop production and marketing opportunities for tobacco farmers and encourage them to grow sustainable, nutritious crops.
It will also aim to expose the tobacco industry’s efforts to interfere with attempts to substitute tobacco growing with sustainable crops, thereby contributing to the global food crisis.
The tobacco industry often touts itself as an advocate for the livelihood of tobacco farmers, but this is a far cry from the truth, WHO said.
The intensive handling of insecticides and toxic chemicals during the cultivation of tobacco contributes to many farmers and their families suffering from ill health.
Further, unfair contractual arrangements with tobacco companies keep farmers impoverished, and the child labour that is often woven into tobacco cultivation interferes with the right to education and is a violation of human rights.