The Ministry of Health in Vietnam is planning to raise the fine for shops that promote smoking from VND1 million to VND10million (US$476).
Dr. Ly Ngoc Kinh, Senior Consultant and Former Director of Vietnam Steering Committee on Smoking and Health said this was another step in efforts to control the use of tobacco in Vietnam.
Smoking poses a bigger health threat to non-smokers in close proximity of smokers. The ministry plans to submit a draft law on tobacco control to the National Assembly by May next year. The ministry also suggests raising the fine for stores and restaurant owners.
The current "Regulation for Banning Smoking in Public Areas" issued in 2010 with a fine of VND50, 000-VND100, 000 to smokers seems too little and ineffective. The fine has been raised to VND200, 000.
Since a year and a half of implementation, only the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai imposed a fine on 10 people so far.
Furthermore, Dr. Kinh said at a meeting on World No Tobacco Day in Hanoi on May 31 that this year focus was on the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Forty thousand people die of tobacco-related diseases each year and the number is expected to rise to 70,000 by 2030, unless firm measures are taken.
Vietnam is amongst the 15 nations with the highest number of male smokers, even though they were the first to ratify the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, said Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen.
The WHO acting representative in Vietnam, Graham Harrison, said at the meeting, that smoking was one of the biggest killers in the world and that the WHO convention on tobacco control had proved to be the strongest tool to curb smoking.
WHO called upon nations to ensure they remain committed to bringing about a tobacco-free environment. Taxes levied on tobacco and cigarettes should be increased while cigarette boxes should be printed with images showing the harm to human health. Advertising, promotion campaigns and sponsorships by cigarette makers should be banned.