July 21, 2010 - Up to 800 million cigarette packs, or a fifth of the domestic consumption of tobacco, are smuggled into the country every year, according to the Vietnam Tobacco Association (VTA). The association estimated the loss of tax revenues annually to the government as a result of the smuggling at 3.5 trillion dong (US$183.7 million). VTA said the situation of smuggled cigarettes: in 2007 approximately 630 million how, in 2008 more than 700 million bags in 2009 and is 800 million bags.
The Mekong Delta city of Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) are among the worst affected. Smuggled cigarettes account for 70 of the tobacco market share in Can Tho and 46 percent in HCMC. The police only discover and confiscate 1 percent of the smuggled cigarettes, the association said.
Vietnam has among the highest rates of male smokers in the world - 56.1 percent -- according to the World Health Organization. The Ministry of Health reported last year that 40,000 people died of smoking-related diseases a year, four times the road accident death tally.
But public awareness of the negative impacts of smoking, especially secondhand smoking, remains low.
References: 800 million cigarette packs smuggled annually in Vietnam, Vietnamnet.vn, 7/16/2010, Smuggled cigarettes as tax losses of about 3,500 billion VND, VNpress.org, 7/19/2010.
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