Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – Cigarette smoke affects some 30 million non-smokers, especially women and children in Việt Nam, according to the Ministry of Health.
Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. Each year, Việt Nam witnesses an additional 20,000 cases of lung cancer and more than 17,000 people die from the disease, the Lao Động (Labour) newspaper reported in its weekend edition.
Of late, more and more young people are afflicted by the disease.
Scientists have also indicated that the total number of deaths due to tobacco usage was higher than those caused by HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
According to scientists, around 48 per cent of deaths were caused by 12 types of smoke-related cancers including Oesophageal, kidney and liver cancer. The exposure rate to second-hand smoke in Việt Nam is relatively high. As many as 67.6 per cent and 49 per cent of non-smokers are exposed to cigarette smoke, at home and at the workplace, respectively.
Head of the Ministry of Health’s Legal Affairs Department Nguyễn Huy Quang, who was part of the team that compiled the 2012 Tobacco Control Law, said, “I had been addicted to smoking for 20 years. Later through work I realised that the practice would not only damage the health of smokers but also of people around me who did not smoke.”
“I have detoxified for two years. I feel healthier and my respiratory diseases have shown a remarkable decrease.”
Despite the availability of the Tobacco Control Law, the settlement of violations remains a challenge.
“It is quite difficult to completely deal with offenders,” Quang said. “What is necessary is a joint effort between office heads and a conscious effort from smokers themselves.”
Smokers light up freely even next to smoke-ban signboards.
“I know smoking is banned here, but I cannot stand when I am in the mood for a smoke,” Nguyễn Mạnh V, from the Thái Nguyên Province’s Đại Từ District said while waiting for a family member inside the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Former head of the National Cancer Hospital’s Thorax Surgery Ward, Doctor Hoàng Đình Chân, said, “The health ministry has issued directives prohibiting smoking in public places. But I, myself, have not seen any sanctions at all. Therefore, a penalty cannot be applied yet.”
“A month ago, we worked on an initiative to build smoke-free hospitals. Accordingly, patients, their family members, and the hospital staff were banned from smoking within the hospital premises. Our ultimate aim is to provide a clean and fresh environment for patients, to which they have a right,” Chân said.
Deputy Head of the Bạch Mai Hospital’s Nuclear Medicine and Oncology Centre Dr. Lê Chính Đại admitted, “It would be a hard journey to that end [to ensure all hospitals are free from smokers]. It needs closer co-ordination from various sectors, and also laws and sanctions.”
“Even at Bạch Mai Hospital, signs banning smoking are seen everywhere but people still smoke. It seems, everyone understands the harmful effects of smoking, but they continue to do so. The hospital is unable to control the entire complex as the number of patients is huge,” Đại said.
On the occasion of World No Tobacco Day on May 31 and the National No Tobacco Week from May 25 to May 31, a range of activities are being held across the country. — VNS