Smoking kills: Lung cancer claims over 100 people a day in Vietnam

By Le Phuong   September 11, 2016 | 10:52 pm PT
Smoking kills: Lung cancer claims over 100 people a day in Vietnam
A woman sells cigarettes in downtown Hanoi. Photo by AFP
Vietnam is set to record around 34,000 new cases of lung cancer by 2020.

About 22,000 new cases of lung cancer are recorded in Vietnam each year, statistics show. That figure is set to rise to about 34,000 new cases a year by 2020, according to a senior doctor.

Pham Xuan Dung, deputy director of Ho Chi Minh City’s Oncology Hospital, said that about two thirds of patients diagnosed with lung cancer are in the advanced stages.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Vietnamese men and the second-most common cause in women. Statistics show about 19,500 people die from lung cancer in Vietnam every year.

Smoking is to blame for the majority of cases.

More than one in four people smoke regularly in Vietnam, according to a joint survey by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.

Vietnam’s Health Education and Communication Center estimates that 40,000 people die of smoking each year.

Smoking is one of the leading causes of death in the Southeast Asian country, with more than 100 people dying from tobacco-related diseases per day.

The latest report by the Health Ministry showed a slight decrease in cigarette smokers in Vietnam between 2010 and 2015, dropping from 23.8 percent to 22.5 percent. The report analyzed nearly 100,000 men and women aged 15 years and older across the country. 

Despite the declining number of smokers, Vietnam still has one of the highest rates of tobacco smokers in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

Vietnam, with a population of 93 million, has some 15.6 million tobacco smokers, mostly men, which translates into one out five people, both men and women, over 15 years old smoker regularly.

The survey respondents were also asked about secondary smoke, and the results showed most smokers were not aware of the negative effects it can have on family members, co-workers and other people who don’t smoke. The rate of secondhand smokers remains high with around 80 percent of those surveyed saying they suffer from passive smoking in restaurants, 62 percent at home and 42 percent at work.

While anti-smoking campaigns have so far been largely ineffective, the Vietnamese government has tried to take other measures to curb smoking such as imposing tough restrictions on tobacco advertising and banning cigarette imports.

Tobacco taxes currently make up more than three percent of the national budget.

Health officials are planning to ask the government to step up these efforts by imposing higher taxes on tobacco, said Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien.

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