A parliamentary committee in Viet Nam has been discussing a proposal for a new fund to address the impacts of smoking. According to VietNamNet Bridge, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Xuyen told lawmakers that smoking causes enormous social and environmental damage so the fund would be a stable financial source to improve community health. Viet Nam’s state current budget resources do not cover all of the costs of treating disease and repairing damage caused by smoking.
Each year, 40,000 people in Viet Nam die of tobacco-related illness. The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts the figure to rise to 70,000 by the year 2030. Xuyen said, “In 2010, Viet Nam spent VND2.3 trillion (US$109.5 million) to treat just three of the 25 diseases related to smoking, including lung cancer.” A smoker spends on tobacco about a third of the amount spent on food, and five times more than healthcare, so smoking is seen as a cause of higher rates of hunger and poverty. Xuyen also noted that tobacco use also has a negative impact on the environment.
The fund proposal was included in a draft Law on Tobacco Prevention discussed by the committee. Some lawmakers did not support the fund proposal, suggesting a direct tax instead. National Assembly vice chairwoman Tong Thi Phong said, ”An increase in the special consumption tax would be more efficient, more transparent and easier to control.” With either design, the proposed law has the potential to provide a stronger foundation for Viet Nam’s efforts to address the impact of smoking.