Farmers Encouraged to Replace Tobacco Crops in Laos

Tobacco plantation near Kong Lor Cave in Khammouane Province
Tobacco plantation near Kong Lor Cave in Khammouane Province

Health officials in Laos have asked the government to encourage farmers to grow other crops as alternatives to growing tobacco.

Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Sanong Thongsana, has provided answers to questions by National Assembly members on Friday regarding the amendment of the draft law on tobacco control, according to KPL.

The country’s tobacco control policy, which is outlined in Article 4, encourages farmers to grow other crops to replace tobacco.

Deputy Minister Sanong Thongsana said that despite the tobacco control law, it has not issued a tobacco production restriction.

“As a member of the WTO, Laos has ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which compels each party to support its farmers in growing alternative crops, although it does not outright prohibit tobacco use,” said Dr. Sanong Thongsana.

“Tobacco plant cultivation is extremely hazardous to the environment, particularly deforestation to clear land and locate firewood, and it is also a short-term and unsustainable agricultural method that has negative health consequences for farmers, particularly the use of chemical fertilizers,” Dr. Sanong Thongsana added.

The deputy health minister, however, was unable to provide an answer as to which crops will be planted to replace tobacco.

Tobacco is a substantial export product for Laos, with the country exporting USD 7 million dollars of cigarettes in September this year alone.

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