Participants ride bikes to advocate for a non-smoking life (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The enforcement of the law on tobacco harm reduction should be promoted in ministries, branches and local authorities to reduce dangers from smoking and lower the death rate caused by smoking, said Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.

She made the call at a meeting organised in Hanoi on May 28 to respond to the World No Tobacco Day (May 31) and launch the national non-smoking week.

Inspections must be intensified and any violation of the law will be punished strictly, she said.

The prevention of tobacco dangers in the country has gained significant results in the past years, the minister highlighted, citing statistics that smoking among Vietnamese youths dropped to 2.5 percent from 3.3 percent in 2007 and the rate of second-hand smokers among students fell by 18.8 percent. The smoking rate among men in urban areas also decreased by 6.6 percent.
However, easy purchase of tobaccos in public places has posed tremendous challenges to smoking detoxification, she added.

According to Lokky Wai, the World Health Organisation Representative (WHO) to Vietnam, special consumption tax levied on tobacco makes up only 40 percent of the retail prices in Vietnam, a very low proportion compared to WHO’s recommendation of 75 percent.

Lokky Wai called on the Government and partners to make concerted efforts to ensure a healthy and sustainable environment for Vietnam by increasing tobacco tax.

He said this will help reduce smoking while scaling up state tax collection.

After the meeting, nearly 2,000 Hanoi students rode bicycles on streets and participated in a flash-mob event to advocate for a non-smoking life.-VNA