VIENTIANE, May 27 (NNN-KPL) – About 7,000 people die annually in Laos, or 19 people per day, from smoking-related illnesses, including non-smokers, who succumb after years of breathing second-hand smoke.
A total of 428 million U.S. dollars has been spent on the treatment of people suffering from such illnesses, accounting for 2.24 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Lao Economic Daily, yesterday quoted Lao Minister of Health, Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, as saying, at an event marking the global and national No Tobacco Day in Vientiane on Monday that, the number of smokers aged above 15 in the country has risen from 25.5 percent in 2012, to nearly 28 percent in 2015.
“The environment is affected by deforestation for tobacco plantations, and the use of chemical fertilisers and herbicides, while tobacco processing for cigarettes requires tonnes of firewood, which also affects the forests,” said Bounfeng.
According to a national survey conducted in 2016, among youngsters aged 13 to 15, 10.7 percent of boys and 2.1 percent of girls smoked cigarettes, while five percent and 3.7 percent, respectively, smoked e-cigarettes.
Bounfeng called on smokers to reduce or quit smoking, in order to prevent themselves and people around them from being affected by second-hand smoke and smoking-related health issues, such as heart disease, cancer and lung problems.
To control smoking, the government imposed heavy fines on tobacco rule violators in 2019, while both producers and importers of tobacco products can be penalised with large fines and additional measures, if the tobacco packages fail to carry the required instructions and health warnings.
Tobacco products sold without instructions or health warnings will be confiscated and destroyed, according to the Lao Economic Daily report.– NNN-KPL