Vietnam among countries with most male smokers

The country is ranked among 15 countries globally with the largest numbers of adult male smokers mainly due to easy access to cigarettes and the prevalence of ecigarettes, the Vietnam News newspaper reported.

Current smoking among Vietnamese men has declined to 42.3% from 45.3% in 2015.

But the male smoking rate remained below the target of 39% set out in the National Strategy on Tobacco Control, said Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Health Ministry’s Department of Medical Service Administration.

Vietnam has managed to reduce the number of smokers by 0.8% in 2022 from 2015, thus preventing 280,000 premature deaths from diseases related to tobacco use, and saving about 1.277 trillion Vietnamese dong each year between 2015 and 2020, according to the World Health Organisation.

But Vietnam is still ranked third among South-East Asian countries with the highest smoking rates, only after Indonesia and the Philippines, according to the Health Ministry.

Health officials cited low cost as a major reason behind smoking, saying that Vietnam’s tobacco tax is among the lowest in the region, only higher than Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

The Vietnamese government is considering an increase in excise rates on tobacco products to boost cigarette prices in efforts to reduce the public consumption of cigarettes.

Cigarette tax rate in Vietnam is 35.6% of retail prices compared to the world average of 56% and the WHO recommendation of 70%.

WHO Representative Angela Pratt suggested that higher taxes should be the quickest and most efficient solution to the problem.

Nguyen Thi An, head of the Vietnam office of HealthBridge Canada, suggested Vietnamese authorities strengthen the enforcement of tobacco-related laws.

She said the government should step up inspection and examination to strictly deal with violations in tobacco use, advertising, promotion, sponsorship, and trading, and raise the special consumption tax on tobacco. — Xinhua

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