Vietnam enacts comprehensive tobacco control law
One of the top 15 tobacco-using countries in the world has taken a stand for tobacco control. The Vietnam National Assembly passed the nation's first comprehensive tobacco control legislation on Monday, 18 June 2012. The new law will come into force on 1 May 2013. The Union has been working with local partners towards the adoption of this tobacco control law since January 2008.
88% of members of the National Assembly approved the Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harm. It has been signed by the Chairman of the Assembly and submitted to the President to be issued. The law comprises smokefree public places, the implementation of graphic health warnings on all tobacco packaging, bans on certain forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and the creation of a fund that will direct mandatory contributions from tobacco manufacturers and importers towards activities that support tobacco control. The law allows for smoking rooms in hotels, ships, trains and airports, although this is not best practice and will expose the public to some second-hand smoke.
The Union works directly with VINACOSH, the Vietnam Steering Committee on Smoking and Health, a government body charged with coordinating tobacco control policy among the various government ministries. Under two consecutive Bloomberg Initiative grants managed by The Union, VINACOSH coordinated drafting of the new tobacco control legislation and advocated for the adoption of a strong tobacco control law. VINACOSH has also paved the way for effective implementation of the law by coordinating national and local bodies working in tobacco control policy.
'We congratulate VINACOSH and the Government of Vietnam on their achievement,' said Dr Ehsan Latif, Director of Tobacco Control at The Union. 'The new legislation will go a long way towards saving the lives of the 40,000 Vietnamese people who die from tobacco-related diseases every year.
'We are commited to working with the government to ensure effective implementation of the legislation. We hope they will remain vigilant on this issue and use the amendment and by-law process to improve the law by removing the provisions for smoking rooms.'
50% of Vietnamese men are smokers and, while only 2% of Vietnamese women smoke, women and children are exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke because two in every three households are home to at least one smoker. Because of the high rates of smoking, Vietnam has been classified among the top 15 Bloomberg priority countries – the 15 countries with the greatest numbers of tobacco users.
Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York, visited Vietnam in March this year to witness firsthand the benefits of his tobacco control grants to build capacity within the government and civil society. Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported The Union to manage seven tobacco control projects in Vietnam over the last five years. Current grants include support to VINACOSH, and to the Vietnam Public Health Association and the Institute of Hygiene and Public Health at Ho Chi Minh City. The Union helps build the financial, organisational and technical capacity of grantees to implement effective tobacco control policies.