Vietnam loses VND8.5 trillion ($366.4 million) in tax revenue each year to tobacco smuggling, according to a recent article in Vietnam News.
Tobacco use among those in Vietnam is more than 45 percent, with a constant increase in young people taking up smoking. Vietnam is one of 15 countries with the highest rate of smokers, according to the World Health Organization. Tobacco-smuggling brings high profits, according to Nguyen Mahn Hung, chairman of the Vietnam Consumer Protection Association.
“Smuggling can bring profits of up to 400 percent while official imported cigarettes are subject to import tax of between 100 percent and 202.5 percent and value added tax of 10 percent,” he said. Vietnam is third in the region for illegal tobacco trading, with 21 billion sticks of illegal tobacco products.
In related news, Health experts and anti-smoking advocates met at a conference by the Ministry of Information and Communications in Ho Chi Minh City, on July 23 to express their concerns about the rising incidence rates of vapor and heat-not-burn (HNB) tobacco products among youth.
Phan Thi Hai, deputy director of the Vietnam Tobacco Control Fund under the country’s Ministry of Health, noted that while his ministry has worked hard to decrease cigarette consumption in recent years, it has been outflanked by the large rise in vapor and HNB tobacco product users.
Hai said that the makers of these products use “compact, eye-catching designs and various flavors” to entice new users, whether they are smokers or nonsmokers.
Le Thi Thu from HealthBridge Canada urged the Vietnam government to develop a legal framework to control vapor and HNB tobacco products with authorities to make extra efforts to inspect and prevent production, imports, marketing and sales of these products.