Viet Nam is set to apply higher taxes, along with other stricter measures, on cigarette trading to limit consumption.

The measures are part of a long-term national strategy to combat tobacco damage that has been approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

On average, total taxes on cigarettes in the country account for almost 45 percent of the retail sale price. Meanwhile, the tax level suggested by the World Health Organisation and World Bank is between 60 and 80 percent.

The strategy, to be implemented until 2020, seeks to reduce the number of smokers in the 15-24 age group to 18 percent from 26 percent; and the overall number of male and female smokers by 39 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Statistics compiled by the Ministry of Health show Vietnamese males stand 15 th among the highest smoking groups in the world.

The strategy also plans that Vietnam is set to ban the sale of cigarettes to people under 18, and also the hiring of people of this age group to sell tobacco products.

The strategy requires the Ministry of Health to cooperate with relevant agencies and come up with specific programmes and action plans to improve people's knowledge and awareness of the serious harm caused by smoking.

A steering committee on fighting and preventing the negative impacts of tobacco consumption will be formed in each locality with the participation of all sectors.

Various financial resources should be tapped to implement the strategy, the PM directed.

A 2010 survey revealed that there were 15.3 million smokers in the country and about 8 million others exposed to cigarette smoke at work, with a staggering 47 million passive smokers at home.

About 40,000 smoking-related deaths were recorded in the country each year. The number is forecast to reach around 70,000 in 2030 if drastic measures are not taken.-VNA