The tobacco epidemic
Viet Nam has one of the highest smoking rates in the world. One-fourth of the adult population smoke—56% of men and roughly 2% of women over the age of 15. As a consequence, approximately one in eight women and one in five men will die from a tobacco-related illness. An estimated 75,000 tobacco-related deaths occur each year in Viet Nam.
Overall exposure to second-hand smoke is high, with nearly 60% of all young people (aged 13-15) exposed to smoke in their homes and 71% exposed to smoke in public places. About 73% of adults are exposed to smoke in the home and roughly 56% of workers are exposed to second-hand smoke.
Policies in Place
Viet Nam became a party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005.
The main legislation around tobacco control is the National Tobacco Control Policy in Government Resolution No. 12/2000/NQ-CP and the Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms (2012). About a dozen decisions, decrees and joint circulars have been passed to further clarify these laws and strengthen tobacco control. These national laws:
- Prohibit smoking in- and outdoors at health facilities, educational campuses (other than universities, colleges, and academic institutes where smoking is prohibited indoors only) and areas specifically for children. Smoking is prohibited indoors at public places and workplaces, except airport waiting areas, bars, karaoke lounges, discos, hotels and guesthouses, which may have smoking guest rooms.
- Bans advertising and promotion but allows point of sale displays. Displays are restricted to one pack, carton, or box of each cigarette brand. Sponsorship and the publicity of sponsorship are restricted.
- Require pictorial and text health warnings on 50% of the front and back of packaging. The size of warnings is set to increase in coming years. Misleading terms are prohibited, except for terms were registered as part of a brand name prior to the 2012 Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms.
- In 2014, Vietnam increased excise tax on tobacco from 65% of the ex-factory price to 70%.
The Union's achievements
Under two consecutive Bloomberg Initiative grants managed by The Union, the Viet Nam Committee on Smoking and Health (VINACOSH) coordinated drafting of new tobacco control legislation and advocated for the adoption of a strong tobacco control law. The Law on Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harm passed on 18 June 2012. VINACOSH and The Union have also paved the way for effective implementation of the law by coordinating national and local bodies working in tobacco control policy. The National Tobacco Control Law came into effect on 1 May 2013; The Union supported efforts for its adoption and prepare for implementation.
In 2013, The Union supported the Ministry of Finance in the development of a tobacco tax roadmap. The Amendment Law on Excise Tax was passed by the National Assembly in November 2014 which regulated that the excise tax on tobacco will increase from 65% (of the ex-factory price) to 70% from January 2016 and to 75% from January 2019 onward.
Following support and advice from The Union, the regulation on Graphic Health Warnings, Government Circular No 05 /2013/TTLT-BYT-BCT was jointly signed by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Industry and Trade in February 2013 and came into effect in May 2013. The circular regulates that the GHW should be in colour, cover at least 50% of packets and be rotated every two years.
The Union is continuing to work with VINACOSH and other NGO partners for effective implementation of the national law. The Union is assisting grantees in the following priority areas: communications on the harm associated with tobacco use and the importance of smokefree environments; smokefree policy implementation in government agencies, workplaces, and public places; capacity building in smokefree implementation and Tobacco Control Law surveillance and enforcement; and, monitoring and supervision in relation to smokefree, TAPS, GHWs.