Readers share with Viet Nam News their opinions on pictures depicting the consequences of smoking being added to cigarette packets sold in Viet Nam for almost six months.
Anne Jones, Australian, Ha Noi
I am an Australian visiting Ha Noi this week, and I can confirm that there is strong evidence in Australia and in more than 40 countries that larger, more graphic health warnings are effective.
They warn smokers about the diseases caused by smoking, act as a deterrent to young children and stop children from becoming addicted to lethal tobacco products.
Lives can be saved in Viet Nam with such warnings and mass media campaigns that reinforce health warnings.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
Both my parents smoked. My older brother smoked. I hated it. As a child, I thought it was "normal." As I have matured and become a cultured, educated adult, I feel sorry for these addicts.
Such photographs provide scientific proof and pressure smokers, while continuously providing a visual wakeup call to them. I am still amazed by all the sugar that I consumed as a child. I now have no sympathy for anyone who drinks soda pop. I have the same opinion of smokers.
It's always possible to give up smoking. People who gamble or drive recklessly without a helmet are either thrill seekers or are wired differently. There is talk of a "gay gene" or a "religious" gene. Neurological studies and brain imaging have revealed that impulsive people have addictive personalities.
Peer pressure and films both influence smokers. Viet Nam, the world and the environment would be a better place if no one smoked. I propose injecting some ironic humour into images on new cigarette packets; why not include a winning lottery ticket and a Russian roulette-style cigarette or have a high stakes poker cigarette brand. Take your pick. A winner in every pack!
Of course, I am being facetious and sardonic, but I will gamble that these gimmicks will work.
Charlie White, Australian, HCM City
They certainly don't affect me because I don't smoke, and I don't like people smoking near me. I have a severe respiratory illness. I wish though that the photographs and warnings were more effective because I still see people smoking everywhere. A substance should be added to cigarettes to make them taste and smell repulsive.
Ngoc Bich Nguyen, Vietnamese
I saw those pictures in Thailand and Australia before I saw them in Viet Nam. They are effective, especially for young people who pretend to like smoking or are on the verge of starting this bad habit. I also saw many adult smokers trying to hide these pictures. They were afraid to see them, and some said the pictures were so thought provoking that they wanted to give up smoking. Viet Nam has effectively used pictorial health warnings on cigarette packs. I wish the price of cigarettes would also be hiked, so children will not even think about buying them.
Lucas Farnbach, Australian, Ha Noi
I'm from Australia, where I think it has been used longer than anywhere else. Apart from a few squeamish people I know, I think they are only a source of jokes and entertainment. I think everybody knows about the harmful effects of cigarettes. It just comes down to a stupid choice, and I am one of the idiots. I think people would be more encouraged if their favourite role models condemned smoking instead. Failing that, price hikes hit smokers where it hurts the most: their wallets.
Hannah Agrippine, French, HCM City
I've seen a few of these photographs on social network sites. People are making fun of these photographs by joining them with human body parts instead of viewing them as a warning.
I think it would be better if the teeth, lungs and other organs used in these photographs were not edited, as editing hides the reality and dilutes their effect on smokers.
Huong Thieu Huyen, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
As a non-smoker, I get annoyed when someone smokes near me. Also, I get scared when I hear of the harmful effects of smoking and see the photographs, including the warning images on the tobacco packets.
I notice that the images' sizes have been increased. However, to be honest, I'm afraid that the images don't have any effect on smokers.
Many smokers have told me that they are aware of the dangers of smoking, not only to their own health but to that of others as well. Many have tried to quit smoking several times only to relapse. Some feel that smoking reduces their stress or makes them more alert and active. Others say that it helps them to continue working.
However, I remember a story that a father who smokes told me. He said he used to be an addict, but since the birth of his child, he has stopped smoking so heavily and avoids smoking at all when he is inside the house or when he is with his family. He made these changes because of the frequent complaints of his wife and daughter.
I wonder if his wife and daughter are also scared of the images on tobacco packets warning of the harmful effects of smoking. If they are, then when they see their husband or father smoking, they can complain and somehow stop him from smoking, at least for that moment.
Many smokers will not stop smoking if they think smoking will harm them alone. However, if they accept that smoking harms other people, including their family, they will change. A smoker, who is also a father, can express his love for his children by giving up smoking. So, should we have more anti-smoking campaigns that target children? Let the children tell their fathers to stop smoking.
Smoking loses puff in Viet Nam
Viet Nam has reported strong improvements in its efforts to promote the adverse health effects of smoking, according to a workshop held in Ha Noi yesterday.
Chairman of the Viet Nam Public Health Association (VPHA) Le Vu Anh said top-notch efforts had been made to communicate the negative effects of smoking to smokers and non-smokers.
The latest survey by the VPHA revealed 39.3 per cent of Vietnamese men were said to be smokers, down 10.1 percent from 2008 figures.
The VPHA also made known that a new model of smoke-free cities, piloted in Nha Trang City and Hue City in 2012, had reduced the percentage of adults exposed to secondhand smoke at work, with decreases of 9.3 and 19 per cent, respectively.
More than half of residents living in the two cities also indicated knowledge of the Law on Prevention and Control of Harmful Effects of Tobacco.
In Viet Nam, around 40,000 people die of smoking-related illnesses each year, according to the World Health Organisation. — VNS