Stakeholders' opinions about a tobacco policy in Lao PDR
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Department of Public Health Sciences, division of Social Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
National Institute of Public Health, Vientiane, Lao PDR
Stockholm Centre for Public Health, Tobacco Prevention, Stockholm, Sweden
Submission date: 2008-10-20
Acceptance date: 2009-01-14
Publication date: 2009-01-14
Tobacco Induced Diseases 2009;5(January):2
The global epidemic of tobacco smoking is expected to impact hardest in low- and middle- income countries (LMIC). There is a lack of understanding regarding the policy environments within which tobacco control policies are being introduced particularly in LMIC. This study aims at exploring key stakeholders' beliefs about a tobacco policy in Lao PDR. This is a qualitative case study with a standardised open-ended questionnaire answered by eleven stakeholders in leading positions within different ministries and the media, donors and NGOs. Themes included the perception of tobacco among professionals, awareness of tobacco as a public health issue, importance of inter-sectoral cooperation, and obstacles faced in implementing policies. The research team included both outsiders and an insider. Analysis was done using the case and cross-case analysis. Among the respondents there was consensus regarding the positive impact of a national tobacco policy with the exception of the representative from the Ministry of Agriculture. Stakeholders identified education, awareness creation through media and law enforcement as important interventions, followed by taxation. Education should be diversified in the way it should be delivered. It was emphasized that people in rural areas and minority groups need tailored made approaches. A major limiting factor in moving tobacco control forward in LMIC was stated to be the lack of funding. The refusal by tobacco industry to participate in the study is noteworthy. It is essential to draft a national tobacco policy that can help the government to increase taxes, and create adequate provisions for the enforcement of tobacco laws and regulations.
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