|According to a survey conducted by the Viet Nam Tobacco Association, more than 850 million packs of cigarettes are imported illegally into Viet Nam, of which JET & HERO brands account for 85 per cent. — Photo baocongthuong
HCM CITY (VNS) — Vietnamese consumers must become more aware of the health dangers of illicit tobacco products, including smuggled cigarettes, experts urged at a seminar held in HCM City on Tuesday.
Organised in response to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) World No Tobacco Day 2015 on May 31, the seminar was held by Suc Khoe & Doi Song (Health & Life) newspaper in collaboration with the Viet Nam Gender Medicine Association.
WHO recently launched a "Preventing Illegal Tobacco" campaign to call on countries to eliminate illegal cigarettes.
Mai Ba Tien Dung, deputy chairman of Viet Nam Gender Medicine Association, said there had been an alarming increase in the number of illegal cigarettes in Viet Nam.
Many of the smuggled cigarettes contain coumarin, a fragrant organic chemical which can be addictive.
Coumarin is a toxic substance that has harmful effects on the nervous system, heart, blood vessels, liver and animals. It can also cause cancerous tumors, especially those related to male reproductive health.
The Viet Nam Ministry of Health, as well as the US Food and Drug Administration, have banned the use of coumarin in cigarettes.
According to a survey conducted by the Viet Nam Tobacco Association, more than 850 million packs of cigarettes are imported illegally into Viet Nam, of which JET & HERO brands account for 85 per cent.
Nguyen Dinh Truong, head of the Viet Nam Tobacco Economic Technical Institute, said the concentration of toxic substances, especially coumarin in smuggled cigarettes such as JET and HERO brands, was too high, causing serious danger to consumer health.
Smuggled JET and HERO cigarettes do not have legal stamps, and do not print health warnings with pictures. They also do not specify expiry dates or the place, date or year of manufacture.
Truong Van Ba, deputy head of National Steering Committee 389, said cigarette smuggling was a challenging problem to manage.
It had threatened the country's politics and social security, he said.
Each year, smuggled tobacco creates a loss of, on average, about VND6,500 billion ($309 million) to the State budget.
Smuggled tobacco also causes a loss of 18,000 tonnes of raw material output per year, and unemployment for more than 5 million labourers. — VNS