Thailand’s ‘smoking toll’ is three times the annual road toll

Smoking kills more than 72,000 people a year in Thailand, three times the number of people that die on the local roads.

Dr Roengrudee Patanavanich, from Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, speaking at a media conference yesterday, says… “Diseases associated with smoking such as lung cancer, emphysema, lung inflammation and tuberculosis are the main killers.”

“Thailand had 10.7 million smokers in 2017, of whom 72,565 succumbed to smoking-related diseases. On average, they lost about 18 years of their life.”

“The cost of treatment was about 77.6 billion baht a year and the cost of lost income opportunities as a result of illnesses was 11.8 billion baht a year. ”

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“In total, smoking has caused financial losses of about 220 billion baht a year,” Roengrudee said, emphasising the loss was much higher than the cigarette taxes that the government could collect.

Disease Control Department director-general Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said cigarette smoke was dangerous not just for smokers but also for others.

“Just one inhalation of second-hand smoke brings hundreds of toxins into lungs,” he said.

Professor Dr Prakit Vathesatogkit, secretary-general of the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation Thailand, credited the late General Prem Tinsulanonda for initiating tobacco control in the country.

“In 1988, he assigned the Public Health Ministry to draw up a tobacco-control plan. Back then, there was no law to ban smoking but Prem banned smoking at Government House,” Prakit said.

Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said it was worrying that a significant number of children started smoking at the age of just 10. He said the government had lately introduced stricter measures to curb smoking in the country. For example, vehicles, offices and all public places are now declared smoke-free.

SOURCE: The Nation

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