Viet Nam - to ban smoking and increase tax..,

August 26, 2009 - In Viet Nam (Vietnam), tobacco-related illnesses are the leading cause of death. 40,000 people die each year from smoking. That’s more than a hundred people per day and three times higher than deaths from traffic injuries. This country has one of the highest male smoking rates in the world: more than half the adult men in this country smoke. (WHO Representative Office in Vietnam - Background)

Back in March 2008 Andre Calantzopoulos, now chief operating officer of Philip Morris International, noted that among large cigarette markets where the company has little or no presence were China, Vietnam, India and Bangladesh. Philip Morris has begun operations in Vietnam - fighting for a share of the huge and lucrative cigarette market.

---> Vietnam will ban smoking in all indoor public places next year and raise tariffs on tobacco products to reduce consumption, the government said. Starting from January 1, 2010 smoking in schools, hospitals, libraries, cinemas, factories, offices and on public transport will be prohibited, a government statement seen on Tuesday, August 24th. The ban will extend to all indoor public spaces by the end of 2010, the statement said, adding the government also plans to apply "high tariff levels" on tobacco products next year to cut consumption.

Tobacco products are subject to a tax rate of 45 percent at present. The government statement did not provide details of the planned tax hike.

Annual consumption of tobacco products in this Southeast Asian country was estimated at about $500 million in 2007, state media reported.

Viet Nam ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in December 2004.

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

Reference: Vietnam to curb smoking, raise tobacco tax, Reporting by Nguyen Nhat Lam; Editing by Nick Macfie, Reuters, 8/24/2009.