HA NOI (VNS)— Viet Nam will face many challenges in implementing a new law on tobacco harm reduction that takes effect in May, according to World Health Organisation Country Representative Takeshi Kasai.
While the law was meaningful in terms of protecting people's health, Kasai warned that it would be hard to ban cigarette advertisements or create non-smoking environments.
This would require effective communication campaigns and enforcement by the appropriate authorities –both when it came to inspecting for violations and handling those violations.
The public should be aware of their right to live in a non-smoking environment and to protect themselves from second-hand smoke, he said.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Xuyen said the major obstacles facing efforts to prevent people from smoking were the high rate of smoking among men, shortage of financial resources and weak participation of related stakeholders.
Introducing new health warning images and establishing a tobacco harm prevention fund would provide a basic foundation for the success of the law, said Xuyen.
He added that the strong determination of leaders and close collaboration of ministries, agencies and relevant organisations would be beneficial for both the law and the National Strategy for Tobacco Harm Prevention to 2020.
Adopted last June, this strategy seeks to deter people from smoking, which would then decrease infections and deaths due to tobacco and reduce hospital overcrowding.
Specifically, the strategy aims to reduce the smoking rate among men from 47.4 per cent in 2011 to 39 per cent in 2020 and to below 1.4 per cent among women.
In youth, the goal is to cut the rate to eight per cent from 26 per cent in 2011.
The health ministry said that Viet Nam had one of the highest rates of male smoking in the world. More than 40,000 people died yearly from diseases relating to smoking – a number that may increase to 70,000 by 2030.
The State Budget has spent more than VND2.3 trillion (US$110 million) annually to treat three of the 25 diseases caused by smoking. — VNS