An anti-smoking publicity campaign was launched on February 22 in a bid to raise people’s awareness on the ill effects the habit brings to both smokers and non-smokers.

The initiative, co-organised by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union Central Committee and the Ministry of Health, hopes to help enforce the Law on Tobacco Harm Prevention by utilising the mass media to spread the anti-smoking message.

As part of the campaign, a photo, video and poster contest themed “Life without Tobacco Smoke” opened across social networks encouraging youngsters to creatively promote the message that smoking is bad for health and the environment.

Contestants can now submit their work online at until May 31. An Apple iPad is the first prize in each category.

According to Gabit Ismailov from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Vietnam has conducted a lot of effective activities against smoking.

However, the country should exert more efforts to build a smoke free environment, especially around youngsters, he said.

According to the WHO, smoking is among the top causes of death in the world, killing 6 million people every year.

Research shows that raising public awareness is among most effective measures to reduce smoking. It is part of WHO’s strategy to reduce the consumption of cigarettes and cigarette products.

According to 2010 statistics, 47 percent of Vietnamese men and 1.4 percent of women above the age of 15 are smokers, equivalent to 15 million people.

In additional, 73 percent of adults in Vietnam are exposed to tobacco smoke in their home, while 55 percent of working people are passively affected by the smoke in their workplace.

Vietnam is one of 15 countries with the highest rate of cigarette smoking in the world, according to the Vietnam Steering Committee on Smoking and Health.

Tobacco use is the cause of 40,000 deaths in the country each year, according to the committee.

The Law on Tobacco Harm Prevention took effect on May 1, 2013 as part of the Government’s efforts to improve the situation.

The law prohibits selling tobacco to people under 18 years old and bans smoking in public places. It also requires cigarette manufacturers to include health warnings on the front and back of cigarette packages.-VNA