HCM CITY (VNS) — Only 6.68 per cent of HCM City's healthcare staff smoked cigarettes in 2014, compared to 10 per cent in 2011, according to a survey by the city's Health Department's committee for tobacco harm prevention.
Trần Lam Lan Hương, the committee's deputy director, said the rate was expected to drop to 6 per cent by the end of this year.
Huong spoke on Wednesday at a workshop that reviewed the committee's activities over the last year in HCM City.
Trịnh Văn Hiệp, a medical doctor and member of the committee, told Viet Nam News that many hospitals, health clinics and preventive health centres had urged staff to quit smoking since the passage of the law on tobacco harm prevention in 2013.
He said that patients and relatives at hospitals were also strongly encouraged not to smoke, and told they could be fined for violating the law, which prohibits smoking in public places such as hospitals.
However, Luu Van Hoa, a member of the Mekong Obstetrics Hospital's steering board for tobacco harm prevention, said that it was difficult to impose fines on patients and their relatives who smoke on hospital grounds.
To curb smoking, hospitals in the city have resorted to a variety of measures.
Hoa said his hospital had delayed the salary of one employee who had violated the smoking ban.
Hiep of the city's Health Department said that many people in the country still did not understand the law. More communication campaigns would be carried out nationwide, he said.
Smoking is also prohibited at schools, Hiep said, adding that hotels and restaurants allow smoking only in designated indoor areas.
At least 400 hotels and restaurants in HCM City, most of them in districts 1 and 3, have implemented the smoking regulations, he said.
In a related matter, the city has set up three clinics that offer smokers detoxification counselling and treatment with medicine. The hospitals are Pham Ngoc Thach, Gia Dinh and Hoc Mon.
By the end of this year, two more clinics, at Thu Duc Hospital and Traditional Medicine Institute, will be established to help people give up smoking.
The city's committee on tobacco harm prevention also plans to provide detoxification training for doctors who work at clinics at industrial parks and export processing zones.
At a workshop on the same issue held in Ha Noi on Wednesday, speakers said that detoxification counselling and medical treatment would be carried out initially at Bach Mai Hospital in Ha Noi.
It would then be implemented at the National Lung Hospital, Ha Noi Oncology Hospital and Hue Central Hospital in Thua Thien Hue Province.
Residents in Ha Noi can call a free hotline 18008066 for counselling on how to quit smoking.
Asso. prof Dr Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Ministry of Health's medical examination and treatment department, said that a survey conducted by the ministry last year showed that more than 47 per cent of men and 1.4 per cent of women in the country were smokers. — VNS