The Health Ministry was expected to submit a draft law on tobacco control to the National Assembly by May next year, in an effort to improve the life expectancy of male smokers, who had the dubious distinction of the highest smoking rate among males worldwide.
Deputy Minister Nguyen Thi Xuyen announced the scheme at a meeting in Hanoi on May 31 in response to World No Tobacco Day, which this year focused on the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Xuyen warned that tobacco-borne diseases had reached disastrous levels for not only the nation but also the entire human race.
“ Vietnam is one of the 15 nations hit by the world’s highest rates of male smokers although it was among the earliest in the world to ratify the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” said the senior health expert.
She called on responsible agencies and the entire community to join hands in fulfilling the Government’s commitments to the WHO in ratifying the relevant convention.
“Only by implementing the convention can we help reduce harm caused by smoking and secondhand smoking to each and every individual, family and the entire society,” she said.
Statistics showed that Vietnam suffered over 40,000 tobacco-borne deaths every year, with fatalities to hit 70,000 by 2030 unless firm measures were taken immediately.
A survey in 2010 revealed that up to 47.4 percent of male adults were smokers.
The WHO acting representative in Vietnam , Graham Harison, said at the meeting that smoking was one of biggest human killers in the world and that the WHO convention on tobacco control had proved to be the strongest tool to curb the smoking disaster.
WHO called on nations to ensure that they were committed to taking firm measures for a tobacco-free environment. Taxes levied on tobacco and cigarettes should be increased while cigarette boxes should be printed with images warning of harm to human health. Advertising, promotion campaigns and sponsorships by cigarette makers should be totally banned, according to the convention. It also spelled out the necessity for nations to establish a sustainable fund for tobacco control./.