In a national survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, the general Office of Statistics, Unicef, and WHO, found that on average most youngsters begin smoking at just 16.9 years old. Stress and peer pressure are given as the main reasons behind underage smoking in Vietnam.
Carried out in 2003 and 2004 the survey questioned 7,600 youths aged between 14-25 in 42 provinces and cities. It concluded that the proportion of smokers in cities is the same as in the countryside, and that social and family environment had a great effect.
The government of Vietnam is currently implementing tax increases on tobacco and cigarettes in order to reduce the number of smokers. According to the Ministry of Health, 90% of smokers suffer lung cancer due to smoking, while another 4% of non-smokers suffer the same fate due to passive smoking. Lung cancer is currently the highest cause of death among the male population.
Christian Salaza, Unicef Chief Representative in Vietnam, said that Vietnamese youths have high hopes for the future of their country. He was shocked with the results of the survey.