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Jun 01, 2023 / 18:43

Vietnamese Government urged to ban e-cigarettes

Vietnam has the 15th largest population of smokers in the world, and approximately 40,000 people die each year from diseases caused by smoking.

National lawmakers have called on the Government to ban all e-cigarette products in Vietnam soon, citing health concerns.

A no-smoking sign is labeled at a bookstore in Hanoi. Photo: Văn Sinh/The Hanoi Times

The Government should amend the Law on Tobacco Harm Prevention and related regulations to 

 stop the trade, circulation and use of e-cigarettes in Vietnam, Hanoi deputy Nguyen Anh Tri said on June 1.

All these actions should be dealt with under the Penal Code, he said.

Tri said new generations of cigarette products, including e-cigarettes, may contain illegal drugs and cause severe damage to people's health.

However, he said, hardly anything was done to prevent these products from adversely affecting society.

He called on the government to reduce the smoking rate to 30% by 2030.

"The Government needs to take stock of the implementation of the 2012 Law on Tobacco Harm Prevention to solve the remaining problems," Tri said.

Some 15.6 million Vietnamese adults, or 22.5% of the total population, are smokers, said Thach Phuoc Binh, a delegate from the southern province of Tra Vinh, during a panel discussion on 31 May.

Vietnam is ranked 15th in the world for smoking, he said, adding that some 40,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases.

He cited a World Health Organization (WHO) report that predicted the number of Vietnamese dying from cigarette-related diseases could reach 70,000 by 2030.

According to the report, eight million people die each year from smoking and one million from secondhand smoke. Smoking also causes lung cancer and stroke, Vietnam's biggest killers. In fact, 96.8% of cancer patients are smokers, according to the Vietnam National Cancer Hospital.

The number of young e-cigarette smokers in Vietnam is soaring, according to Phan Thi Hai, director of the Department of Health's Fund to Prevent and Control Smoking Harm.

The percentage of Vietnamese adults who smoke e-cigarettes has increased 18-fold in five years to 3.6 percent, she said, citing a 2020 survey. The number of young Vietnamese smokers aged 13-15 was 3.5%.

"The evidence from countries where e-cigarettes are legal shows that e-cigarettes contain nicotine and cause addiction among the youth," she said.

The data, according to Hai, showed that adolescents who used e-cigarettes were more likely to become hooked on other tobacco products.

Angela Pratt, WHO Country Representative in Vietnam, urged the Vietnamese Government to raise tobacco prices and taxes to reduce the number of smokers during National No Tobacco Week, 25-31 May.

A decision approving a national strategic program to prevent and control the use of e-cigarettes, shisha, and other new tobacco products has just been signed by Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha. It is part of a comprehensive program proposed by the Ministry of Health to prevent tobacco harm by 2030.

The decision will prevent the use of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn cigarettes, shisha, and other new tobacco products in the community, with the aim of reducing the smoking prevalence among males over 15 to below 39% and among females to less than 1.4%.

It is also expected to prevent passive smoking in workplaces, restaurants, hotels, cafes, and other public places.

Moreover, the Vietnamese Government is working to increase taxes on tobacco products and set minimum prices for them. Tobacco sales in duty-free shops will be strictly controlled, and more no-smoking areas will be created. Online tobacco advertising will also be banned.

From August 1, the Ministry of Health will ban smoking in all public areas, schools, medical and healthcare facilities, children's playgrounds and centers, flammable and explosive areas, work offices and buildings, and public vehicles.