Laos to Ban E-Cigarettes Amid Growing Concerns

(Photo: AP)

The Lao government is set to amend its legislation on drug prevention and control to incorporate electronic cigarettes into the list of prohibited substances. This decision comes in response to the escalating issue of e-cigarette addiction, particularly among the youth population in the country. 

Addressing the National Assembly in early November, General Vilay Lakhamphong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Security, assured the Assembly that these devices would be promptly classified as prohibited substances, adding them to the list of products containing banned addictive substances and precursors.

In late August, Dr. Thongphoun Meunphilomhe of Mittaphab Hospital drew attention to the growing concern of electronic cigarette usage in Laos, citing the tragic case of a young patient whose demise was linked to severe respiratory problems caused by e-cigarette use. 

Additionally, a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2022 estimates that tobacco-related diseases cause nearly 6,800 deaths and cost LAK 3.6 trillion (USD 173 million) annually. E-cigarettes are considered to be just as harmful as traditional tobacco, and without timely restrictive measures, the nation will soon face a new wave of e-cigarette addiction, according to the ministry.

Laos’ decision to ban electronic cigarettes aligns with several other countries in the Southeast Asian region. Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore, and Thailand have already implemented similar measures, reflecting a collective approach to addressing this issue, according to the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance.