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Vietnam applies stricter measures to reduce smoking


09:22, April 26, 2013

HANOI, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Vietnamese government has recently undertaken a series of steps to fight against the prevalence of smoking which kills around 40,000 people annually in the country.

Specifically, the law on the prevention and control of smoking will take into effect from May 1, regulating measures aimed to reduce the demand for tobacco, control supply and prevent tobacco harm.

According to the country's health ministry, the implementation of the law will focus on enforcing smoking ban in agencies, government offices, schools, hospitals and a number of public places as well as regulating cigarette advertisement, promotion and funding.

In another move, the Ministry of Industry and Trade recently approved a decision to limit the number of tobacco traders in Vietnam to 1,000 by 2015. Another 760 traders will be licensed between 2016 and 2020, and 350 distributors will be permitted to operate by that time, reported local Thanhnien (the Youth) News.

The ministry said between 2016 and 2020, licenses would be granted in accordance with the ratio of traders and distributors to the population - one trader for every 50,000 people and one distributor for every 250,000.

Tobacco businesses will also have to meet certain requirements regarding the area of their storage facilities, number of transport vehicles, and financial capacity, in order to receive licenses.

In other related news, the Ministry of Health's Legal Department introduced the draft decree on fines for violations in the field of health, including underage smoking and smoking in prohibited areas.

People caught smoking in prohibited areas would receive fines of 200,000-500,000 Vietnamese dong (VND) (10-24 U.S. dollars). People under age 18 caught smoking or buying cigarettes would be fined 200,000-300,000 VND (10-14 dollars), while those who sell cigarettes to underage customers would be fined 1 million VND (48 dollars).

The draft also recommended fines of 3-5 million VND (144-240 dollars) for the owners of smoke-free venues who fail to post no- smoking signboards or who otherwise do not prevent smoking violations from taking place.

In addition, those who fail to label tobacco products with proper warnings about the health hazards associated with smoking would receive the stiffest fine of 40 million VND (1,918 dollars).

The draft decree is expected to be approved by the government at the end of this month and aims to bolster enforcement of the new Law on Cigarette's Harms Prevention.

Earlier in January this year, the Prime Minister approved the national strategy to combat tobacco's negative impacts by 2020.

Accordingly, by 2020, the rate of smoking among youth groups ( 15-24 years old) is expected to be reduced from the current 26 percent to 18 percent, while for male adults from 47.4 percent to 39 percent and to less than 1.4 percent among female adults in the country.

In 2009, Vietnam issued a ban on smoking in schools, healthcare facilities, libraries, theaters, cultural centers, public vehicles and indoor workplaces. Fines for violating the ban range between 50,000 and 100,000 VND (2.4-4.8 dollars).

However, the ban has been largely ignored, which has been attributed to the lack of health inspectors to enforce it.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Vietnam is among 15 countries with the most smokers in the world, with about half of all male adults in the country are smokers. In addition, nearly 60 percent the population is exposed to second-hand smoke.

If no effective measure is undertaken, the number of smoking- related deaths would hit 70,000 Vietnamese people by 2030, warned WHO.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:YeXin、Chen Lidan)

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