The Ministry of Health has launched a nationwide campaign to promote a smoking ban in indoor public places that will take effect in 2010.
The launching ceremony for the mass media campaign called âCigarettes Are Eating You Aliveâ was jointly held by the ministry, the World Health Organization and the World Lung Foundation (WLF).
The campaign will inform millions of Vietnamese smokers about the serious health effects of tobacco and secondhand smoke on adults and children by broadcasting two ads about the issue on nationwide television channels.
âCigarettes Are Eating You Aliveâ visually depicts how smoking damages vital organs of the body and can cause serious health problems, even death, in children who are exposed to cigarette smoke.
The campaign was originally created and used effectively as part of a comprehensive tobacco control program in New York City, according to a WLF press release posted on its website on December 18.
The ads were rigorously tested in several countries, including Vietnam, and were found to motivate smokers to try to quit. The campaign has already aired in Ukraine, Lebanon, Poland and Australia, but Vietnam is the first country in Asia to launch these ads.
The first ad shows in graphic detail how cigarettes damage the lungs, heart and brain by causing strokes. A second ad shows that children exposed to cigarette smoke suffer more respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma and worse still, sudden infant death.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Xuyen said more young people have become addicted to smoking and new addictions were increasingly seen among younger ones.
This was an âalarmingâ issue that would increase the incidence of and deaths due to tobacco-related diseases, she said.
In August, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed a decision to ban smoking in indoor public places, starting on January 1, 2010.
The places will include classrooms, healthcare facilities, libraries, theaters, cultural centers, public vehicles and indoor workplaces.
Violators will be warned and can be fined between VND50,000 (US$2.7) and VND100,000 ($5.4). Inspectors from concerned agencies will be assigned to enforce the decision.
Under the plan, higher taxes will be imposed on making cigarettes more expensive from now to 2010. Only authorized retail outlets would be allowed to sell the products after 2010.
Vietnam will continue to ban tobacco sales to people under 18 as well as sales via the Internet, telephone and automatic vending machines.
Tobacco use is responsible for more than five million deaths each year and one in ten preventable deaths worldwide, according to WLF.
In Vietnam, it kills almost 40,000 people each year. Half of Vietnamese adult men are smokers, and about two-thirds of children and women are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke at home and in public places, it says.
Source: Thanh Nien, Agencies