WHO backed the Government of Lao PDR in calling for compliance to the Tobacco Control Law and its 2016 regulations

WHO stand with the Lao Government, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) to name the Lao Tobacco Company (Imperial Tobacco Group) and Lao China Hongta Good Luck Company, for their failure to comply with the Tobacco Control Law and its 2016 regulations which requires 75 per cent Pictorial Health Warning (PHW) on all cigarette packs in Lao PDR. Dr Juliet Fleischl, WHO Representative to Lao PDR said that “WHO and partners consider this non-compliance a serious violation of the Tobacco Control Law and its 2016 regulations and we urge the Prime Minister’s Office and relevant ministries to take firm action against the two companies.”

Press briefing organized by Ministry of Health for WHO to issue statement to the media

The Lao Government made a landmark achievement in May 2016, when it announced the regulation to impose pictorial health warning on local and imported cigarettes that would cover 75 per cent of all cigarette packs. The regulation would come into force 15 days after the gazette registration. However, there are two local companies; the Lao Tobacco Company (Imperial Tobacco Group) and Lao-China Hong Ta Good Luck Company that has requested for extension. This was then extended three times to 1st January 2018 (as agreed with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce). The Government and the line ministries agreed that sufficient time has been given to the two companies and the violation is not acceptable. All other foreign tobacco companies have complied with the law. Dr. Philavong Bounpheng, Director-General, Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion of Ministry of Health reiterated that “This is the time for the Lao Government to reinforce the pictorial health warning regulations and ensure that all tobacco companies comply with the law and regulation and any violations must be duly addressed in a timely manner.” Tobacco control is one of the priorities under the Ministry of Health, to protect the people from the harmful effects of tobacco use. Pictorial health warning is a cost effective control measure that helps reduce tobacco use by encouraging current users to quit and preventing non users from initiating smoking habits.

All three TV stations and mass media participated in the press briefing