People have died from tobacco-related diseases since the opening of the first FCTC working group on 28 October 1999.
- January 25, 2013
BANGKOK, 25 January 2013 - The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) on Thursday congratulated the Lao People's Democratic Republic on passing a decree establishing a tobacco control fund.
The new law will see the fund built on a two percent tax on tobacco industry profits. It will also allow a specific increase of 200 Lao Kip (US$0.03) per cigarette pack, proceeds of which will also go to the tobacco control fund.
"We commend the dedicated and hardworking tobacco control advocates and the collective efforts of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance," said SEATCA Director Ms Bungon Ritthiphakdee. "Hand in hand they were able to achieve this milestone benefitting the people of Lao PDR."
With the two-percent tax and the 200 LAK per pack, the government projects to generate as much as US$6 million per year for the tobacco control fund. This will go to strengthening the National Health Insurance programme, and also help in improving health care equipment and tobacco control activities in 17 Lao provinces.
"It is important to remember that funds for tobacco control can be used as a tool to diminish the impact of smoking-related diseases and all major non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and thus mitigates economic and social burdens," Ritthiphakdee said. "This new law will ensure that millions of premature deaths and disabilities can be prevented," she added.
Countries in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) that have benefitted from additional revenues for tobacco control to support health promotion are Thailand, via the Thaihealth Promotion Foundation, and Malaysia, via the Malaysia Health Promotion Board.
These countries have led the way in ASEAN and are reaping the health benefits, accelerating implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and most importantly, reducing NCDs risk factors in their countries.
Laos' achievement "continues to build momentum for greater, more effective tobacco control in the ASEAN," said Ritthiphakdee. She noted that the development comes on the heels of the passage of Vietnam's Tobacco Control Law, a Sin Tax law in the Philippines, and a new packaging regulation in Indonesia.
Lao PDR has a 40.3 percent smoking prevalence among adults (above 18 years old): 67.7 percent among males and 16 percent among females.