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More Than 45% of Vietnamese Males Are Smokers: Health Expert

Will increasing tax on tobacco help reduce the problem?

On April 19, a conference organized by the Ministry of Information and Communication and Healthbridge – an NGO that specializes in health issues in vulnerable populations – held in Ho Chi Minh City reveals that more than 45% of Vietnamese males smoke cigarettes, Dan Tri reports.

The conference, titled "Providing Information And Media Training For Smoking Prevention" also mentioned that poor people account for a large percentage of these smokers. This point was brought up by HealthBridge Foundation Vietnam’s director Pham Thi Hoang Anh, who also added that low-income households spend up to 5.3% of their incomes on cigarettes.

Another alarming statistic that Anh brought up was that in Vietnam, smoking starts from a young age: a study in 2015 shows that some 56% of Vietnamese begin smoking before reaching 20 years old.

Deputy Head of a Tobacco Consequences and Prevention Pham Thi Hai suggests raising the tax on tobacco to help address the situation. Specifically, he advocates increasing the tax to at least VND2,000 per cigarette pack by January 1, 2020 and adjusting the tax based on consumer price indexes each year.

Nguyen Tuan Lam, a representative for the World Health Organization in Vietnam, shared the same view, noting that the tax per retail price of tobacco in Vietnam is 35.6%, which is low compared to the global average of 56%. Within Asia, Vietnam’s rate is also much lower than Thailand (73%), Singapore (66%), and the Phillippines (63%).

In developing countries, if the tobacco tax increases by 10%, tobacco consumption will decrease by 5%, Lam notes. However, some also pointed out that increasing the tax might not be an effective long-term solution, as previous tobacco tax increases have shown that consumption only dropped during the year following the introduction of the new tax and then returned to previous rates. 

[Photo via Youtube user Kyle Le Dot Net]

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