Jul 3, 2014

The health problem for policy makers in Vietnam, as the country is one of the most tobacco-friendly countries in the world

The Diplomat told us why Vietnam is being “one of the world’s most tobacco-friendly countries.” The policy makers in Vietnam have to tackle this health risk to the people.

So what is being done to tackle the problem?

A little over a year ago, the Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms was approved by an overwhelming majority of the legislative National Assembly and announced to much fanfare in the state-run media. Vietnam’s leaders, long reserved on the issue, seemed to be finally taking a stand. Among other regulations, the law bans smoking in certain public places, the sale of cigarettes to minors, and any advertising of tobacco products.

In one such establishment, the owner seems unbothered by the transgression. “The smoking law isn’t really enforced to be honest. I think the police have an attitude of khĂ´ng sau [no problem] and look the other way.” Several others in the bar claim to be unaware of any such regulations even existing.

This lack of knowledge, despite the initial newspaper coverage that accompanied the law’s launch, has led to the ascendance of numerous campaign groups committed to making the message impossible to ignore. They have taken to the internet to reach Vietnamese web users, who spend an average of 2.4 hours on social media every day.

Vietnam’s tobacco excise tax is approximately 40 percent of the retail price; among the lowest in the region. The health and finance ministries want to hit manufacturers, and subsequently consumers, by raising excise taxes on tobacco from the current 65 percent to 75 percent in July next year, and by a further 10 percentage points in 2018.


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