Vietnam to increase cigarette taxes, prices

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The Health Ministry is seeking public feedback on a plan that aims at reducing smoking by increasing taxes on cigarettes through 2020.

Nearly half of male adults in Vietnam smoke.

The draft plan also proposes minimum prices for cigarettes that will be increased gradually.

By 2020, the proportion of smokers between 15 and 24 years old is expected to reduce from 26 percent to 18 percent. Among this group, the targeted proportion of males is 39 percent and females is 1.4 percent.

The proportion of secondhand smokers is expected to reduce from 24 percent to 14 percent at medical facilities, from 22 percent to 12 percent at educational institution and from 56 percent to 26 percent at other workplaces.

Also, the proportion of people exposed to secondhand smoke at restaurants is expected to reduce from 85 to 50 percent and on public means of transport from 34 to 16 percent.

According to the Health Ministry, Vietnam is ranked among the top 15 countries with highest number of male smokers.

A survey in 2010 found 47.4 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women smoke.

Nearly eight million people are exposed to secondhand smoke at the workplace and 73 percent at home.

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The health ministry estimates that smoking kills 40,000 people in Vietnam annually.

The World Health Organization has said annual fatalities will increase to 70,000 in 2030 unless effective measures are taken.

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