Smoking-related deaths remain a cause for concern in Laos

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN): Laos has the second worst record of all Asean countries with regard to smoking-related deaths, even though health officials have worked to raise public awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco.

Deaths, where tobacco is considered to be the main contributor, are estimated at 4,807 per year on average or 13 people per day, while every year tobacco kills at least 8 million people around the world.

Millions more live with lung cancer, tuberculosis, asthma, or chronic lung diseases caused by tobacco. Healthy lungs are essential for living a healthy, productive, and active life.

The widespread use of tobacco means that a very large number of people are exposed to serious health risks, with effective tobacco control being the only way to reduce these risks and better protect our health, the Lao Framework Convention on Tobacco Control states.

An official from the Ministry of Health’s Hygiene and Health Promotion Department spoke to reporters ahead of the annual Walk for Health held to mark World No Tobacco Day on Monday (May 31).

The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2021 is “Commit to Quit” and aims to raise awareness about the damaging effects that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease.

She spoke about the department’s plan of action and some of the tobacco control activities taking place to reduce the number of smokers.

Health authorities and their development partners are continuing to advocate for tobacco control and the reduction of smoking rates in Laos.

“We look forward to many further advances in the fight against tobacco in Laos. We advocate for effective policies to further reduce the use of tobacco, and we work with stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for better health through tobacco control, ” she said.

An official working for the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control project said health authorities’ concerns about tobacco extended far beyond its harmful impact on human health and well-being.

There is mounting evidence that tobacco use has grave socio-economic and environmental implications, deepening poverty, exacerbating inequalities, reducing labour productivity, slowing economic growth, and amplifying environmental damage.

Tobacco’s harmful effects disproportionately impact the poorest and most marginalised, who are the least prepared to withstand socio-economic shocks.

In many countries, the poor are more likely to smoke, and along with young people and women they are the most vulnerable targets of the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing practices. - Vientiane Times/Asia News Network

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