Advocacy for a strong tobacco tax policy - experience and lessons of an INGO in Vietnam
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HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, Vietnam Office, Viet Nam
HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, Canada
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A619
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Background and challenges to implementation:
Vietnam ranks fifteenth in the world by the number of smokers. The government aims to reduce smoking prevalence among men from 47% (2010) to 39% by 2020 but is reluctant to adopt a strong tobacco tax policy. The main challenges are low awareness of the benefits of increased taxes, and misconception among decision makers of the impacts of tax and price policy, led by the tobacco industry (TI).

Intervention or response:
HealthBridge works with the WHO, government and civil society in this campaign. Our approaches are: 1) Generate evidence on the benefits and best practices of tobacco taxation by conducting literature reviews and research; ii) Deliver evidence to policy makers, media, and people through workshops, articles and IEC; iii) Build capacity through technical workshops, involving government officers, and study tours; iv) Provide critical comments on the draft Excise Tax Law and guiding documents.

Results and lessons learnt:
The 2014 Excise Tax Law was passed with an increased tax rate to 70% (from 65%) on Jan 1st 2016, and to be increased to 75% on Jan 1st 2019; this led to an increase of retail price, revenue and some decrease of consumption in 2016, however the affordability has continued to rise due to inflation.
The higher tax base revised in 2016 with improved definition of the payees in the distribution system is expected to reduce the risk of price transfer and the loss of government revenue.
There is improved awareness among policy makers and the media on the positive impacts of higher tobacco tax.

Conclusions and key recommendations:
2014 & 2016 tax revision has positive impacts on retail price, revenue and consumption, but did not reduce affordability. Vietnam needs further tax reform.
The implementation of FCTC article 5.3 by the country is urgent to reduce tobacco industry interference in tobacco control.

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