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Health experts urge higher tobacco tax

Update: May, 31/2014 - 10:00
HA NOI (VNS)— Health experts have asked for increase in tax on tobacco as an effective measure to reduce production, trading and use of tobacco.

Speaking at a meeting to mark World Tobacco Day (May 31), Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Xuyen stated that the current tax on tobacco, which is 41.6 per cent of retail price, was lower compared to other countries in the region.

"Increasing tax on tobacco to 60–70 per cent of retail price will be an effective measure to reduce the use of tobacco among the youth as well as lessen the damage to people's health and community," stressed Xuyen.

"In order to reduce the national smoking rate by 1 per cent per year, special consumption tax on tobacco should be raised from the current 65 per cent to 105 per cent by 2015, to 145 per cent by 2018 and to 155 per cent by 2020," stated Xuyen.

Xuyen added that increasing tax on tobacco will also help in increasing financial source for the State Budget.

Dr Gabit Ismailov from the World Health Organisation also pointed out that the increase of tax on tobacco will help Viet Nam to avoid between 5,000 and 9,000 deaths per year and reduce the male smoking rate to 39 per cent by 2020.

The health ministry survey revealed that 47 per cent of adult men and 1.4 per cent of women above the age of 15 were smokers, equivalent to 15 million people. Around 21.6 per cent of the youth, aged 16–24, were smokers. A study on tobacco use among students aged 13–15 revealed that more than 10 per cent of male students and 4 per cent of female students said that they intended to smoke in the future.

The country's total economic burden caused by five tobacco-related diseases in Viet Nam was over VND23 trillion (approximately US$1.1 billion) in 2011, accounting for 0.91 per cent of the country's GDP.

The World Health Organisation reported that around 6 million deaths related to tobacco use occur each year, including 600,000 from passive smoking. If current trends continue, by 2030, approximately 8 million people will die each year from tobacco use, of whom 80 per cent will be from low- and middle-income groups. — VNS

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