Lao People’s Democratic Republic: tobacco control law amended

The National Assembly agreed, on 16 November 2021, to adopt the Law on Tobacco Control (Amended) through resolution No. 36/NA, dated 16 November 2021, the President of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic issued Decree No. 240/president, dated 29 December 2021 that promulgated the law, which comes into effect 15 days after official gazette registration. This law replaces the Tobacco Control Law No. 07/NA dated 26 November 2009 and repeals provisions that are inconsistent.

The amended law includes a stronger tobacco control policy and has strengthened provisions on novel and emerging tobacco products, the distribution and sale of tobacco products, on plain packaging, smoke-free public places and workplaces, as well as on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, among others.

Examples of key areas that saw stronger stipulations compared to the 2009 law are as follows:

• Article 4 expands the government policy on tobacco control and indicates that the State places great importance on tobacco control through development and implementation of policies such as raising taxes and prices for tobacco products, not promoting the establishment of new factories and services and protecting health policies from tobacco industry interference.

• Article 12 on types of tobacco products now includes electronic cigarettes, heated tobacco products and shisha; and Articles 47 and 48 prohibit the use, production, import, export and sale of these products.

• Article 18 requires distribution and sale (wholesale and retail) to be authorized by the industry and commerce sector in coordination with the health sector. And Article 21 requires distributors and traders to obtain permission for the sale and purchase of tobacco products in accordance with the relevant law and regulations.

• Article 23 indicates that separate regulations will be developed for standardized (plain) packaging of tobacco products.

• Article 28 indicates that tobacco taxes must be increased periodically in line with socio-economic development, purchasing power, inflation to reduce tobacco use.

• Article 33 requires smoking areas, in facilities where this is permitted, to be at least ten meters away from the building, with an area not exceeding five square meters and have no roof.

• Articles 47 and 48 include a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Specifically, tobacco advertising in all forms is prohibited, including point of sale product display and advertising as well as the sale of tobacco products through electronic and social media. The law repeals a 2010 decree that provided an exemption for point of sale product display and advertising on parasols.

The law also includes other key provisions on the Tobacco Control Fund and the management and inspection of tobacco control activities.

For more information, please, contact Dr Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director General, Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion and Dr Khatthanaphone Phandouangsy, Deputy Director General of the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion (