Smoking at public place (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Smoking has created an economic burden to not only smokers and their families but also society, said Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien at a meeting held in response to the World No Tobacco Day in Hanoi on May 31.

Minister Tien highlighted that non-communicable diseases contribute to 73 percent of all deaths nationwide and smoking is one of the major causes.

“Tobacco smoke costs Vietnamese smokers 31 trillion VND (1.36 billion USD) per year,” she said.

Meanwhile, treatment for five major diseases - lung cancer, gastrointestinal-respiratory cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attack, and stroke, caused by smoking, are estimated at 24 trillion VND (1.05 billion USD), she noted.

“Prevention of smoking is challenging as tobacco is an addictive product and giving up smoking is difficult if the smokers are not determined.”

In Vietnam, more than 47 percent of Vietnamese men smoke and as many as 30 million people are regularly exposed to smoking every day, reported Head of the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment Luong Ngoc Khue.

According to Dr. Kidong Park, World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative in Vietnam, Vietnam is among the top 15 countries offering the lowest prices for tobacco. One pack of cigarette ranges between 6,000 VND and 20,000 VND.

The low prices of tobacco products result from the country’s low tax levied on tobacco. The tax per retail price in Vietnam is over 35 percent, compared to the world average of 56 percent and the WHO’s recommendation of 70 percent.

He recommended that Vietnam should apply the special consumption tax of 2,000 VND to 5,000 VND on a pack of cigarettes as part of efforts to reduce the smoking rate among Vietnamese men from 47 percent to 39 percent by 2020.

The same day, a workshop was held on the occasion of the World No Tobacco Day by the Ministry of Health and Bach Mai Hospital.

Forty five percent of the under-five children having medical checkups at the hospital were exposed to smoking and 93 percent of the pregnant were second-hand smokers, according to a study conducted by Bach Mai hospital.

Experts said that smoking makes it harder for women to get pregnant. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a miscarriage as well.

According to the latest report from the Ministry of Health, all 63 provinces and cities in Vietnam have developed non-smoking areas, while 1,200 training courses on non-smoking have been held.

Smoking bans were instituted at 1,200 schools nationwide, and 51,000 labourers have given up smoking.-VNA