HO CHI MINH CITY, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Over 45 percent of Vietnamese men smoke cigarettes, and many of them start smoking before the age of 20, according to an anti-smoking conference held here on Thursday.
Some 40,000 Vietnamese people die each year due to smoking, the conference's participants said, proposing higher taxes on cigarettes.
Between 2005 and 2016, when income per capita surged 4.7 times, cigarette prices rose only 2.2 times. According to Nguyen Tuan Lam from the World Health Organization in Vietnam, tax accounts for 35.6 percent of the retail price of cigarettes in the country, while the world's average rate is 56 percent.
According to a global adult tobacco survey in Vietnam conducted by Vietnamese and foreign agencies, including the Vietnamese Health Ministry, the country has 15.6 million smokers aged over 15, with 85.3 percent smoking daily, who annually spend some 31 trillion Vietnamese dong (nearly 1.4 billion U.S. dollars) on their habit, the Vietnam Office of HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, told Xinhua.
Of the Vietnamese smokers, 75.9 percent smoke at least 10 cigarettes or half of a packet, and 37.6 percent consume at least a packet every day, the foundation said, adding that local men start smoking daily at the average age of 18.8.
In 2010, the World Health Organization estimated that about 48 percent of men and around 1 percent of women smoked in Vietnam. The organization has projected the rate to be 47 percent for men and 1 percent for women by 2025 in Vietnam, whose total population stands at 95 million.
Nearly 1 billion smuggled cigarette packets are consumed in Vietnam each year, causing losses of some 450 million U.S. dollars to state budget, and resulting in losses of 1 million jobs for farmers and workers in the domestic tobacco industry, according to the Ho Chi Minh City-based Vietnam Tobacco Association.