Health officials in Laos say some 6,700 people die from smoking-related diseases each year, with the use of e-cigarettes on the rise among youth.
According to a report by KPL, the number of smokers has increased from 25.5 percent of the population in 2012 to 27.9 percent in 2015.
Minister of Health, Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, spoke during the Second Ordinary Session of the National Assembly’s Ninth Legislature held in Vientiane Capital last week, saying that smoking-related diseases are on the rise in Laos.
The health sector has observed an increase in lung cancer, atherosclerosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among smokers.
According to a national spending assessment from 2009, the cost of treating these three illnesses in hospitals alone would be over LAK 28 billion per year.
Meanwhile, a representative of the 16th district of Sekong Province, Mr. Khampasith Thepvongsa, spoke about the use of e-cigarettes by Lao youth when addressing the National Assembly.
He said that a law prohibiting the import and sale of e-cigarettes was urgently needed.
“Children aged 12 years and over are more likely to use e-cigarettes, which can be easily found in public places such as restaurants and cafes,” said Mr. Khampasith.
“The government should issue regulations banning the import or sale of e-cigarettes, including strict punishments for offenders,” he said.
According to a national survey conducted in 2016, e-cigarettes were used by 5% of young men and over 3% of girls and young women aged 13 to 15.