Smoking Rate Still High In Laos

The rate of smoking in Laos is still high compared to its population, causing the involved sectors to seek ways to reduce the problem.

A survey conducted recently in Laos found that more than one million people, or 29.4 percent of the adult population aged from 15 years and above, are tobacco users.

The survey also found that about 876,000 people or one third of all 15 year-olds have smoked tobacco. In addition, the rate of smoking among young people of both sexes aged between 13 and15 has increased each time a survey was conducted in 2003, 2007 and 2011.

Head of the Health Promotion Division of the Hygiene and Health Promotion Department, Dr Khatthanaphone Phandouangsy, said that the rate of smoking in Laos was very high and he urged all officials concerned to increase their efforts in the fight against the bad habit.

“Combating smoking would be one way to practice the law on tobacco control and reduce the medical costs arising from smoking-related illnesses and conditions.

The survey from Mahosot, Mittaphab and Setthathirath Hospitals found that Lao people spent a lot of money on medical treatment for lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease and damaged blood vessels in the brain each year.

Figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that about 4,800 people in Laos die from smoking related diseases each year.

To reduce the rate of smoking, the WHO advised partner countries to establish basic policies to control tobacco usage.

These included monitoring tobacco consumption and preven tion; protecting the health of second-hand smokers; assisting smokers wanting to give up the habit; printing photos on cigarette packs illustrating the dangers of smoking; enforcing the prohibition on tobacco advertising and cigarette sales promotion by tobacco companies and progressive increases to the tobacco tax.

The WHO estimates that tobacco kills about six million people each year and causes more than half a trillion dollars of economic damage globally.

Source: Vientiane Times