In Laos, Smoking Kills More People than Road Accidents

Photo credit: Krisanapong Detraphiphat

According to statistics revealed by the Ministry of Health, smoking causes more deaths than road accidents every year.

Laos recorded 831 deaths by road accidents in 2021 and the latest statistics show that 6,800 people die from smoking-related illnesses each year, including lung cancer, atherosclerosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Those who smoke also spend LAK 3.6 billion (USD 2202.81) on cigarettes every year.

The World Health Organization’s health coordinator to Laos, Dr. Ying-Ru Jacqueline Lo, stated that more people in Laos die from smoking than from accidents, despite the country having a poor reputation when it comes to road safety.

A senior lawyer from the Secretariat of the International Convention on Tobacco Control, Ms. Kate Lannan spoke at a conference regarding this issue last week. She informed that among the ASEAN countries, Laos has the lowest tobacco tax collection rate. This might have led to more people picking up the habit considering how affordable it is.

Ms. Kate said that increasing the price of tobacco is a great measure to reduce smoking in the country. This measure not only ensures that residents keep their smoking in check, but it is also a great strategy for the government to earn more revenue.

In May, Minister of Health, Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith presented the figures on smoking-related deaths at an event held to mark national “No Tobacco Day”. He said that smoke from cigarettes alone kills roughly 8 million people around the world each year, and it would go up to a billion if no strict measures are put in place.