Will increasing the tax on cigarettes help to curb smoking?

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce has increased the tax on cigarettes, hoping to encourage people to quit and deter young people from taking up smoking, which is a waste of money as well as causing serious health problems. The tax will increase from 500 kip to 600 kip, and the price of an imported packet of cigarettes must not be less than 4,000 kip.
Vientiane Times sought public opinion on the matter.


Mr Lay Phanphila, a resident of Naxaithong district: I heard on social media that the price of cigarettes will increase which bothers me because I smoke but am a low income earner. I’m not happy with what I’m doing but I can’t stop, although I am trying to cut back. I’m lucky that I’m in good health and I don’t have any problems from smoking. But I urge everyone, especially young people, not to start smoking because it’s very unhealthy and steals your money.

Ms Phard Thongdavone, a resident of Xaythany district: It’s really tough to get people to stop smoking because cigarettes are not illegal and you have to smoke for many years before any bad effects appear. I think it’s good to increase the tax on cigarettes because it will help reduce the number of young smokers and will generally be a deterrent because of the added cost, although it’s not much. I’ve seen the graphic health warnings on cigarette packets, which I also think will put a few people off smoking. I’m happy that the government is trying to reduce the number of smokers and I hope that all manufacturers and importers of cigarettes comply with the new ruling.

Mr Khonsavanh, an official in Huaphan province: Smoking is bad for everyone. I don’t like smoking and I can’t stand it when there’s someone smoking nearby. As we all know, both smokers and people close to them are affected by cigarette smoke and it has both direct and indirect impacts. It’s good that the authorities have increased the price of tobacco, even only slightly, because it will reduce the number of smokers and the risk of disease. It will help to protect the health of the community in general and hopefully reduce the number of young smokers.

Mr Toy, a resident of Chanthaboury district: When I was young I was persuaded by my friend to smoke but I don’t like it because there are many diseases caused by tobacco and it also affects people nearby. I think that if tobacco costs more it will reduce the number of smokers and they will stop to consider more deeply when making the decision to buy cigarettes or food. In any case, I urge all smokers to try to quit or cut down as much as possible, as they will be healthier and so will the people round about them.

Ms Khonsavanh Phommachan, an employee in Vientiane: I think it’s a good idea to increase the price of tobacco because many people haven’t given up smoking and still aren’t well educated about the terrible health risks. People in rural areas in particular are at high risk of health problems because they don’t understand the consequences of smoking. Even though the government ordered graphic health warnings to be printed on cigarette packets and everyone can see and understand them, including illiterate people, they don’t pay any attention. I’m sure that if the price increases it will make it harder for people on low or no incomes to continue to buy cigarettes.  

By Lamphone Pasanthong
(Latest Update January 14, 2019)

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