Laos' Drug Prevention and Control Law will be amended to include electronic cigarettes in the list of addictive substances and precursors. The move is the government's response to the growing problem of e-cigarette addiction, especially among the country's youth.
During the Sixth Ordinary Session of the Ninth Legislature of the National Assembly, which ended on November 21, General Vilay Lakhamphong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Security of Laos, announced his plan to classify electronic cigarettes as prohibited substances. This move comes after Dr. Thongphoun Meunphilomhe of Mittaphab Hospital expressed concern about the use of e-cigarettes in Laos in late August, citing the tragic case of a young patient who died from severe respiratory problems caused by the use of e-cigarettes.
Based on a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2022, diseases related to tobacco use are projected to cause nearly 6,800 deaths and require expenditures of approximately 3.6 trillion rupiah (US$173 million) per year.
The Lao Ministry of Health also said that tobacco-related diseases dominated as the leading cause of death in the country in 2019, accounting for about 65 percent. Electronic cigarettes are considered to have the same health risks as traditional cigarettes, and if restrictive measures are not implemented quickly, the country could potentially face a new wave of e-cigarette addiction problems, the ministry said.
Laos' policy to ban e-cigarettes is in line with several other Southeast Asian countries that have already implemented similar regulations. These include Brunei, Cambodia, Singapore, and Thailand. This move reflects a common approach to the issue, as expressed by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance.
Overall, Laos has made very significant progress in its tobacco control efforts over the past decade. This is particularly evident in restricting tobacco advertising, controlling the availability of e-cigarettes and maintaining smoke-free environments, as noted in a recent World Health Organization report released in September.
Source: Laotian Times | The Star