Tobacco use increasing in Myanmar at alarming rate

Union Minister Dr Myint Htwe delivers the speech at the Myanmar National Conference on Tobacco Control and Prevention of NCDs in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA
Union Minister Dr Myint Htwe delivers the speech at the Myanmar National Conference on Tobacco Control and Prevention of NCDs in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA

Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr. Myint Htwe has warned yesterday that tobacco use is increasing in Myanmar at an alarming rate.
He made the comment in his speech at the Myanmar National Conference on Tobacco Control and Prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) titled “Uniting for Saving Lives and Saving Money,” jointly organised by the Ministry of Health and Sports and International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) held at Grand Amara Hotel, Nay Pyi Taw, yesterday
According to research data, 44 per cent of men in Myanmar consumed tobacco, while quid with tobacco is consumed by 62 per cent of men.
“This is an alarming and dangerous stage,” he said. As per research conducted in schools, 13.6 per cent of young students (between the age of 13 and 16) were consuming tobacco and quid. Some 26 per cent of male students and 4 per cent of female students are doing the same, he said.
Nowadays, tobacco free movements are being held in universities and basic education schools. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was approved by 192 countries, including Myanmar in 2003, and Myanmar was the 11th country to ratify it.
The union minister said the conference was important to discuss effective ways to control the consumption of tobacco and to openly talk about NCDs.
The related ministries from the country, the Hluttaw health-related committee chairmen, social organisations, as well as technicians and experts from Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), will share their experiences at the conference, he said.
The work of preventing NCDs and tobacco control couldn’t be conducted solely by the Ministry of Health and Sports. The day’s conference will discuss the requirement of the combined forces and systematic cooperation by the related ministries, especially the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Planning and Finance, civil service organisations on the ground and the state/region governments, said the union minister.
“If the NCDs caused by tobacco consumption are long-term illnesses, it is costly both mentally and financially for the patients and their families, as well as an additional burden on the government’s funds,” said the Union Minister.
“Treatments for these illnesses are being provided free in people’s hospitals. If emphasis is not put on the illness, the state’s health expenditures will rise sharply in the coming 10 to 15 years, affecting the country’s economy,” he added.
Next, World Health Organisation (WHO) country office representative Dr. Stephen Paul Jost spoke about the works conducted by WHO on tobacco control and NCDs, while the Union Group Myanmar Office Director Mr. Nick Southern spoke about tobacco control in Myanmar, followed by the Union Asia Pacific/Singapore Deputy Regional Director Dr. Tar Singh Bam.
The conference will continue today with symposiums, panel discussions and plenary sessions. — Myanmar News Agency

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