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‘10% of world’s smokers from Southeast Asia’

MANILA, Philippines - At least 10 percent of the 1.25 billion adult smokers worldwide are from Southeast Asian countries, with the female smoking rate highest in the Philippines, Myanmar and Laos.

The 2013 Association of Southeast Asian Nations Tobacco Control Atlas of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) report showed that 127 million or 30 percent of adults in the 10 ASEAN countries are “current smokers.” 

Smoking prevalence among males is highest in Indonesia at 67.4 percent and lowest in Singapore at 23.7 percent. Female smoking rate in the Philippines, Myanmar and Laos is more than five percent each.

SEATCA director Bungon Ritthiphakdee said many ASEAN countries are still faced with numerous challenges in reducing tobacco consumption to minimize health and economic burden despite adopting several tobacco control policies and laws.

“In particular, tobacco companies are continually expanding their business in ASEAN countries, planning to sell more cigarettes, targeting more boys and girls for addiction and interfering in all levels of tobacco control policy development implementation,” Ritthiphakdee said.

The report showed that Indonesia, whose population is estimated at more than 240 million, accounts for 65 million or 36.1 percent of adult smokers.

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