15.6 million Vietnamese spend $1.4bn on smoking: survey

About 15.6 million adults in Vietnam consumed tobacco last year, the Ministry of Health announced Tuesday

A man smokes in front of his children at an eatery in Ho Chi Minh City.

About 15.6 million adults in Vietnam consumed tobacco last year, the Ministry of Health announced Tuesday, citing findings of a global survey.

Vietnamese smokers spent VND31 trillion (US$1.39 billion) on cigarettes, or VND2.7 million ($121) per person per year, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2015.

The GATS, a World Health Organization-backed initiative, was conducted last year in Vietnam by the Hanoi Medical University and the General Statistics Office.

The survey found that besides traditional cigarettes, there is an increase in using e-cigarettes, sisha, and chewing tobacco among adults in the country, the health ministry confirmed at a conference to announce its results in Hanoi.

The percentage of adults smoking e-cigarettes has risen to 0.4 percent in men and 0.1 percent in women. About 0.1 percent of adults also consume sisha, while 1.4 percent of the population use chewing tobacco, according to the survey.

The good news is that only 45.3 percent of men aged 15 and above smoked in 2015, compared to 47.4 percent a year earlier.

The smoking rate among men in urban areas also decreased from 45 percent in 2010 to 38.7 percent last year.

The survey also said that raising tobacco taxes proved to be an effective solution in reducing smoking.

The Ministry of Health’s spokesperson said that many countries had banned e-cigarettes due to the density of nicotine stored in the devices, which is more harmful than traditional cigarettes.

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) is a nationally representative household survey launched in February 2007 as a new component of the ongoing Global Tobacco Surveillance System (GTSS), the WHO said on its website.

The GATS enables countries to collect data on adult tobacco use and key tobacco control measures.

Topics covered in GATS include the prevalence of tobacco use, knowledge, attitudes as well as perceptions, economics, and more.

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