Tobacco, alcohol consumption rising in parallel with high technology


BANGKOK, 31 May 2011 – The National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) found that more Thai people are getting sick while cigarette and alcohol consumption is rising together with technological advancement.

According to NESDB Secretary-General Akom Termpittayapaisit, advertisements of cigarettes and alcoholic drinks can reach people easier via social media channels such as facebook and twitter. Teenagers who are majority of social network users are inevitably victims of the advertisements.

Tobacco consumption in Thai households in the first quarter this year was 5.408 billion baht worth, up 1.6% from the figure in the same period last year of 5.322 billion baht. Alcohol consumption was 37.129 billion baht worth, down 1.1% from the figure in the same period last year of 37.536 billion baht.

Although the situation is relatively stable, consumption tends to rise among teenagers and working people while the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, which cuts tobacco and cigarette import tax from 5% to 0%, will lead to more competition among companies and rising consumption encouragement.

Based on the situation, it is hence expected that Thai people will suffer more from chronic diseases this year, especially hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

This group of people, accounting for 5% of employees under the social security system, is projected to cause 25% of treatment expenses. If the number of patients increases from 5% to 10-15% in the next five to ten years, the social security fund will experience a deficit in each year of its operation.

The Ministry of Public Health estimated that there will be 12.5 million people getting ill this year. Of this number, 78,000 will die, with half of them dying from chronic diseases such as heart disease, coronary disease and diabetes.