At the conference (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnamese reporters and editors were equipped with skills and information to improve their writings about long-term harmful effects of tobacco and the need to raise the tax on tobacco at a conference held in Hanoi on September 25.

Jointly held by the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications and Healthbridge Foundation of Canada, the event was part of activities to realise Decision No.229/QD-TTg approving the national strategy on tobacco harm prevention and control until 2020, and Decision No.517/QD-BTTTT on issuing plan to organise conference providing information and skill training for reporters of both central and local press agencies.

International efforts to prevent tobacco harms, benefits of tobacco taxes, and the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommendations were updated at the event. In addition, public opinion on the increase in tobacco taxes as well as results of the research on the impacts of tobacco tax hike on business and jobs in Vietnam were also under spotlight.

Reporters joining the event shared their experience in approaches and ways to conduct effective writings on smoking prevention.

Tobacco prevention has received extensive coverage of the domestic media in the past years. However, many writings fail to update readers on the latest information on the issue.

Statistics from the WHO showed that tobacco is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing 7.1 million people a year, including 900,000 deaths by diseases caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoking also costs the world around 1.4 trillion USD.

According to Jun Nakagawa, deputy chief of the WHO Office in Vietnam, 40,000 people die from smoking every year and the figure is forecast to reach 70,000 by 2033 if the country takes no strong measures.

In Vietnam, smoking also causes economic losses of more than 24 trillion VND (1.03 billion USD) in treatment and labour loss every year.

More than 47 percent of Vietnamese men smoke and as many as 30 million people are regularly exposed to smoking every day. The high rate of smoking was triggered by the country’s low tax levied on tobacco. The tax per retail price in Vietnam is 36 percent, compared to the world average of 56 percent and the WHO’s recommendation of 70 percent.-VNA