Tobacco tax hike could help protect mothers, children

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Raising tobacco taxes could help reduce smoking and the harm it causes to women and children, experts said at a workshop held in Hanoi early this week.

Smoking is not o­nly a personal business but also social problem because its danger affects the society and the victims are mostly women and children. (Photo: VNA)

With the theme of “Impact of Increasing Tobacco Taxes o­n Mothers’ and Children’s Health”, the workshop gathered representatives from ministries, institutions, National Assembly agencies, policy makers, and people working in the medical, gender equality and development fields.

Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer in Vietnam, and passive smoking mostly affects women and children.

Smoking costs money that could be spent o­n food, education and medical treatment, especially among poor families. This is a matter of gender equality, said Tran Thi Huong, Vice President of the Vietnam Women’s Union.

“Over the pass few years, the Women’s Union has been working o­n a campaign themed ‘Women Build Smoke-Free Homes’ to enhance women’s understanding of the harms of smoking.”

Experts provided the latest data o­n the affects of smoking o­n women and children regarding health, economics and gender equality.

They also discussed the importance of increasing the special consumption tax o­n cigarettes to reduce the harm of smoking and passive smoking.

Phan Thi Hai, Deputy Director of the Vietnam Tobacco Control Fund (VNTCF), presented a proposal to increase tobacco taxes based o­n findings from the WHO and VNTCF.

Under the proposal, 5,000 VND will be added to the current tax o­n every pack of cigarettes from 2020. This is forecast to cut the smoking rate among men by 6.5 percent and prevent 900,000 early deaths in compliance with the Government’s goal.

“We know that significantly increasing tobacco taxes is a proven effective strategy to reduce smoking and can help protect women and children from exposure to harmful second-hand smoke,” said Betsy Fuller from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Tom Carroll, senior advisor in policy, advocacy and communications at Vital Strategies, a global public health accelerator, provided a quick evaluation of the proposed tax hike, saying “most people who were asked strongly support increasing the tobacco tax to reduce smoking as well as its bad effects and burden in order to protect the health of mothers and children”.-VNA