There are 280 million smokeless tobacco users. WHO calls for greater tobacco control in Southeast Asia

The World Health Organization has called on Southeast Asian countries to tighten controls on cigarettes and vapes. Local cigarette consumption remains the highest, and youth e-cigarette use is on the rise.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 20, the WHO called on Southeast Asian countries to strengthen the control of cigarettes and vapes. Despite a significant decline in cigarette consumption over the past few years, the region still has the highest cigarette consumption in the world, and vape use is slowly increasing.


Ms Saima Wazed, director of the Southeast Asia Office, said cigarette use in Southeast Asia remained the highest in the world, putting them at risk of life-threatening diseases such as cancer, respiratory and heart disease. Since vapes have not been shown to be effective for smoking cessation, there is an urgent need to take measures to control their use. We should try our best to control the use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes in order to protect our health and save our lives.


The World Health Organization observed that the number of cigarette users in Southeast Asia declined from 68.9 percent in 2000 to 43.7 percent in 2022, but about 411 million people in the region still use cigarettes. In addition, there are about 280 million smokeless cigarette users in the region, accounting for nearly 77% of the world’s smokeless cigarette users, and about 11 million young people aged 13-15, accounting for nearly 30% of the global total.


In many countries, especially among young people, the use of vaping is increasing, and the combination of e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes is becoming more common. Thailand tracked the use of e-cigarettes and found that e-cigarette use among school children aged 13 to 15 rose sharply from 3.3% in 2015 to 17.6% in 2022.


Who has pledged to support policies that counter the influence of the cigarette and e-cigarette industries to ensure the health of 2 billion people in the region. North Korea, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste have banned the use of vapes, while the Maldives considers e-cigarettes to be cigarette commodities.


Over the years, countries in the region have made major breakthroughs in the fight against cigarettes. In 2000, the utilization rate of men’s cigarettes declined from 68.9% to 43.7% in 2022, while the utilization rate of women’s cigarettes also declined from 33.5% in 2000 to 9.4% in 2022, which is the largest decline of all WHO regions.


The region and the WHO Africa region are on track to meet the target of a 30% reduction in cigarette use by 2025 for non-communicable diseases (NCDS). India and Nepal are expected to meet the NCD targets and reduce cigarette use by at least 30% by 2025, while the other eight countries are also expected to reduce cigarette use, although the decline is likely to be less than 30%.


By 2024, Bangladesh has declared that it will achieve a “smoke-free Bangladesh,” while India has launched an “End to Cigarettes” program.