Smoking is the cause of death of 62 percent of deaths, or around 40,000 people in Vietnam each year, three times the fatality of traffic accidents.
Medical costs for lung cancer, chronic blockades and other smoking-related diseases total 2.3 trillion VND a year, an August 22 seminar in Hanoi was told.
At the seminar which aimed to assess Vietnam’s capacity to prevent and control the impacts of smoking, Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen said Vietnam is facing a series of challenges such as a high rate of male smokers and the common social tolerance for smoking.
Therefore, the Vietnamese Government has increased its efforts to build the draft law on the prevention and control of smoking and asked experts to contribute opinions before it is submitted to the NA for approval.
Experts said the draft law should focus on clarifying a number of issues, including the low contribution of domestic sources to 10 percent total expenditure on smoking prevention and control in Vietnam, which they said will not ensure the sustainability of the programme.
Vietnam should soon set up a fund for smoking prevention and control, using financial contributions from tobacco production and trading enterprises, they said.
The draft law is also not strong enough to reduce the impact of smoking on the community, the warning on tobacco packages is not strong enough to attract attention and projects to disseminate the issue have not been able to change people’s behaviour, they said.
In addition, the country’s tobacco consumption and production taxes remain cheaper than regional countries, which the seminar was told is a factor that increases the number of smokers.