|Vietnamese Youth Academy students participate in a bike parade on the occassion of the meeting held in response to the World No Tobacco Day (May 31) and the National No Tobacco Week (May 25 - 31). — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Hiếu|
HÀ NỘI — Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Việt Nam Angela Pratt has called on the country to raise the tobacco tax and prices, which are still among the world’s lowest.
She made the appeal at a ceremony held in Hà Nội on Saturday in response to the World No Tobacco Day (May 31) and the National No Tobacco Week (May 25 - 31).
She pointed out that Việt Nam loses at least 40,000 lives to tobacco each year, and there remains much to be done to reduce the number of premature deaths from tobacco use and to achieve the target of bringing the smoking rate down by 30 per cent by 2030.
The WHO official said that it was necessary to prioritise increasing tobacco tax and prices. The low tax and prices facilitated young people’s access to and use of tobacco while making it more difficult for smokers to quit the practice.
It was also important to prevent and control the use of new-generation tobacco products, Pratt said, adding that these products wre still sold and advertised in ways causing misunderstanding among the vulnerable youth.
In his remarks, Deputy Minister of Health Trần Văn Thuấn cited WHO statistics as showing that tobacco use kills about 8 million people around the world each year, including some 1.2 million as the result of non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke.
Over the past years, Việt Nam has recorded encouraging results in tobacco harm prevention and control. The male smoking rate fell to 42.3 per cent in 2020 from 45.3 per cent in 2015. Particularly, the rate of exposure to second-hand smoke has dropped considerably in such places as workplaces, schools, public transport vehicles, and indoor areas.
The rate of tobacco use among people aged 15-24 declined to 13 per cent in 2020 from 26 per cent in 2015. It also decreased to 1.9 per cent in 2022 from 2.5 per cent in 2014 among those aged 13-15, he went on.
However, the health official pointed out that Việt Nam was still among the countries with a high number of smokers. Products such as e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products, and shisa, which haven’t been licensed in Việt Nam, emerged in recent years. The trading and advertising of these products were popular, especially on the internet.
Therefore, if strong and timely measures against tobacco harms or new-generation tobacco products were not continued, the smoking rate might bounce back, he warned.
This year’s World No Tobacco Day is themed “We need food, not tobacco”, appealing to countries to promote activities raising public awareness of tobacco harms to health, the economy, environment, and food and nutrition security; point out the relationship between tobacco use, planting and poverty; and urge quitting smoking to increase spending on food. — VNS