Viet Nam – First comprehensive tobacco control law adopted

The first ever comprehensive tobacco control legislation in Viet Nam – a public health milestone for the country – took effect on 1 May 2013, after being adopted by the National Assembly on 18 June 2012. The new law establishes smoke-free places, increases the size of graphic health warning labels, restricts tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and establishes a tobacco control fund.

Key contents of the law include the following:

- the following places are designated as smoke-free: health and educational settings; child care and entertainment areas designated for children; areas at high risk of fire and/or explosion; indoor workplaces; universities, colleges and other academic institutions; restaurants; public transport (automobiles, aeroplanes and sky train/metro);
- graphic health warning labels are required on cigarette packaging, and must cover 50% of the main surfaces;
- advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products are banned (with a few exemptions for sponsorship);
- tobacco sales are banned within 100 metres of the perimeter of child care facilities, schools and hospitals, preventive medicine centres and communal health stations;
- “kiddie packs” and sales of tobacco products to minors are banned;
- a dedicated tobacco control fund is established to provide financial resources for the prevention and control of tobacco use through smoking cessation programmes, research projects, and educational and communication programmes.

This new law will help protect the 70% of Vietnamese children aged 13–15 who are exposed to second-hand smoke in public places, and aims to reduce tobacco use, which kills more than 40 000 people each year in Viet Nam.

More information can be obtained from Phan Thi Hai, Vice Director, VINACOSH Standing Office, Ministry of Health, at: haivinacosh@yahoo.com.

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