Viet Nam - WHO increase cigarette tax to lower smoking rate..

April 8, 2010 - A recent survey conducted by Nguyen Tuan Lam, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official, and other experts, found that higher incomes and low cigarette taxes had helped keep the smoking rate high, despite education about the hazards of smoking.

On we reported in August 2009 that Viet Nam - to ban smoking and increase tax..

Even with smoking ban in effect as of January 1, 2010 people can still be found smoking in public places, such as parks, stations and hospitals.

Every year, 40,000 people in Viet Nam (Vietnam) die from diseases related to smoking, and the medical expenses related to lung and heart diseases caused from smoking is estimated at VND1.1 trillion (US$61 million) each year, according to WHO.

Half of the men in the country smoke, with 65 per cent of them between 25 and 45 years old. WHO said if prevention measures were not implemented soon, annual fatalities due to smoking would rise to 70,000 by 2030.

Lam said if the Government imposed a tax of VND1,750 (1,750.00 VND = 0.09 USD) for each cigarette package, about 30 percent of smokers would quit. Tax revenues would be deposited in the Government’s health insurance fund.

Lam said that WHO and the World Bank had proposed raising the tax rate from 66 to 80 percent for one package of cigarettes.

Printing warning letters and images that warn smokers about the consequences of smoking are also effective methods to prevent people from smoking, especially young people.

Viet Nam was the 47th of 166 countries that signed the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

WHO said the warning images, which include photos of rotting teeth or cancerous growths, on cigarette packages should cover half of the package.

In August last year, the Prime Minister issued Decree No 1315 to follow the WHO convention guidelines.

Dr Ly Ngoc Kinh, a high-ranking expert at the Viet Nam Steering Committee on Smoking and Health, said the Ministry of Health had told tobacco producers to print the warnings on cigarette boxes no later than April 1 this year. However, companies have been postponing putting the warning message on packages.

“The rule must be implemented this year. About 60 images related to diseases caused by cigarette smoking have been selected for printing on the box,” Kinh said. “The warning label may be very helpful in preventing teenagers from smoking.”

Media plays an important role in urging the Government to consider both the economic interests of tobacco producers and the health of its citizens. It should also play an important role in warning about the dangers of smoking, he said.

Viet Nam is a member of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (Seatca).

Reference: VnnNews – Raising cigarette taxes could be the most effective way of reducing the high smoking rate in Viet Nam, VietNamNet/Viet Nam News, 4/7/2010.

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