Laos sees some 7,000 deaths each year from smoking-related illnesses, or 19 individuals per day, including nonsmokers who inhale secondhand smoke.
Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith, Minister of Health, presented the figures at an event held to mark national “No Tobacco Day” on Monday ahead of World No Tobacco Day on 31 May.
He said that the number of smokers aged 15 and over had increased from 25.5 percent in 2012 to nearly 28 percent in 2015, while a national survey conducted in 2016 discovered an increase in cigarette and e-cigarette use among young smokers aged 13 to 15.
Meanwhile, the health sector has observed an increase in lung cancer, atherosclerosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among smokers.
The treatment of those suffering from smoking related diseases costs the government USD 428 million, accounting for 2.24 percent of GDP, according to the Health Minister.
The theme “Tobacco’s Influence on the Environment” was proposed by the Ministry of Health for this year’s “No Tobacco Day.”
According to Dr. Bounfeng, tobacco plantations use chemical fertilizers and herbicides, which have an impact on forests. All at the same, smoke pollutes the air and is harmful to those nearby.
“Smoke from cigarettes causes air pollution, and smoke is harmful to the health of both smokers and those nearby. Smoke from cigarettes kills almost eight million people around the world each year, and it is expected that the number will increase to one billion people within this century if measures are not tightened,” he said.