November 1, 2010 - A NOI - A national survey released in Ha Noi yesterday, October 29th showed that the number of smokers across the country has fallen slightly, but tobacco related illness and deaths continue to be a major problem. The survey, conducted among almost 10,000 people earlier this year, revealed that 47.4 per cent of male respondents smoke, down from 56.1 per cent in 2002. The survey also found that 1.4 per cent of female respondents smoked, down from 1.8 per cent in 2002.
More than 15 million adults smoke tobacco in Viet Nam (the population of Vietnam is approximately 87,375,000, wikipedia), according to the survey, which also noted that while most Vietnamese were aware of the dangers of passive smoking, exposure to it remained very high at home, work and in public places.
Speaking at a workshop co-organised with the World Health Organisation yesterday, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen said the survey results would help the ministry develop tobacco control policies.
According to the survey, services to treat tobacco dependence are not easily accessible by smokers in Viet Nam. The survey proposed improving enforcement of smoke-free areas and expansion of services to help people quit smoking while raising public awareness on the dangers of the drug. Regulations on raising taxes on tobacco and banning tobacco advertisements are needed for controlling tobacco in Viet Nam, according to the survey's recommendations.
Statistics from the health ministry note that Viet Nam has one of the highest smoking rates in the world. Nearly 40,000 deaths were attributed to smoking in 2008 - an annual death toll set to rise above 50,000 deaths by 2023.
Reference: Smoking declines but still kills 40,000 a year in Viet Nam, asiaone.news, 10/30/2010.
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Viet Nam is a member of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (Seatca).