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May 15, 2024 / 11:12

PM calls for tighter controls on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products

Local authorities in communes across Vietnam are asked to regularly supervise the prevention and control of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products and strictly deal with related violations.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has requested that the purchase, sale, and trade of unlicensed electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and heated tobacco products (HTPs) in Vietnam be better controlled and regulated.

In a directive on March 13, Chinh said that despite initial results in preventing and controlling tobacco harm, the use of e-cigarettes and HTPs has remained rampant in the community, especially among Vietnamese youth, reminding them that they harm users' health.

The Prime Minister instructed the Ministry of Health (MoH) to step up communication and education on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes and HTPs in the community and to propose solutions to control these products better.

 A batch of smuggled e-cigarettes was seized by authorities in Hanoi. Photo: Baochinhphu

Customs authorities are urged to crack down on smuggled e-cigarettes and HTPs crossing borders, while border guards are asked to intensify border patrols to detect the illegal trade, storage, and transport of smuggled e-cigarettes and heated tobacco.

Chinh asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to strengthen the management of the local market and strictly clamp down on the trade, illegal storage, and transport of e-cigarettes and HTPs.

The Ministry of Public Security is tasked with toughening enforcement against rings and groups involved in the illegal trade or mixing of banned substances for e-cigarettes.

The Ministry of Information and Communication, the Ministry of Education and Training, Vietnam Television, Radio Voice of Vietnam, Vietnam News Agency, and provincial People's Committees are urged to strengthen communication on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes and HTPs.

Local authorities nationwide are asked to supervise the prevention and control of e-cigarettes and HTPs regularly and strictly handle related violations.

The alarming numbers

According to the MoH, although Vietnam hasn't approved the import, trade, or circulation of e-cigarettes and HTPs, they are becoming increasingly popular. "With different designs and flavors, these products are gaining popularity in the country, especially among young people," the ministry said.

It cited the World Health Organization's (WHO) 2023 survey, which found that more than 3.5% of students aged 13-17 in Vietnam used e-cigarettes.

Health authorities and the media have reported many cases of students being poisoned by nicotine and the liquids used in these products.

"In addition to the harms similar to those of regular cigarettes, the use of e-cigarettes and HTPs also carries the risk of causing social ills, especially crimes related to drugs and other addictive substances," the MoH emphasized.

According to the MoH, reports from nearly 700 medical examination and treatment facilities across Vietnam showed that last year alone, more than 1,200 people were hospitalized due to the use of e-cigarettes and HTPs. Of these, 580 were aged 65 and over, while the youngest group of patients were under 16 years old, accounting for 27 cases.

The WHO stressed that a growing body of evidence shows that e-cigarettes are just as harmful to health as conventional cigarettes.

"E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is an addictive substance, so minors may experience difficulty and discomfort when using them. Nicotine affects the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. It increases the risk of cancer, angina, heart failure, stroke, and immunodeficiency. It reduces resistance and causes other health problems. It is especially harmful to brain development in children, impairing memory and affecting intellectual development," WHO said.

The organization added that at least 39 countries and territories have imposed a total ban on e-cigarettes. Five of these are in the ASEAN region: Thailand, Singapore, Laos, Brunei and Cambodia.