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Vietnamese Smoke $1.4b Worth of Cigarettes Yearly: Survey

A recent survey on global smoking habits revealed that Vietnam is home to approximately 15.6 million adult smokers, who consumed some US$1.39 billion worth of cigarettes last year alone.

According to Tuoi Tre, the research, titled the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2015, estimates that each local smoker shells out VND2.7 million (US$121) per year on cigarettes.

Despite the staggering figures, GATS also discovered a dip in the total number of smokers among men aged 15 and above, falling from 47.4% in 2014 to 45.3% last year. The situation has improved significantly in urban areas, as in 2015, only 38.7% of urban males smoked, while the figure was 45% in 2010.

As summarized at a conference held by the Ministry of Health last week, while it does seem that some Vietnamese are staying away from traditional cigarettes, another portion of the population is turning to newer ways to get their nicotine fix, as demonstrated by an increase in the usage of e-cigarettes, shisha and raw tobacco leaves among locals.

According to VnExpress, each year 6 million people around the world die of tobacco-related diseases. Currently, this number is 40,000 in Vietnam, and is expected to reach 50,000 by 2023.

GATS also surveyed those who don’t smoke in Vietnam and found that 80% of respondents reported that they have been exposed to cigarette smoke in restaurants, while the figures were 62% for home and 42% for work.

The alarming amount of cigarettes which Vietnamese consume each year is undoubtedly taking a toll on their health, especially if the number of lung cancer cases reported yearly is any indication, according to Tuoi Tre.

At a recent seminar on the application of targeted therapy in improving survival rates among non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients held at the HCMC Oncology Hospital, the panel revealed that there are 22,000 new cases of lung cancer every year in Vietnam, while the illness also claims 19,500 lives annually.

This aggressive form of cancer is currently the leading cause of death among local males and the second-most common cause among females.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien told VnExpress that health officials plan to focus more on inspections in public areas to curtail smoking, in addition to requesting an increase in the tobacco tax.

[Photo via Flickr user Staffan Scherz]

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