Inspectors in all departments of culture, sports and tourism in cooperation with police and other agencies have been asked to crack down on tobacco advertising and promotions.

At a press meeting held on May 16 Phan Thi Hai of the Vietnam Steering Committee on Smoking and Health said she hoped Vietnam would promptly issue a draft law on banning tobacco advertising and promotions under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

In addition, the law on prevention of tobacco's harmful effects should be issued as soon as possible, Hai said, adding that this programme would help further the ban on tobacco advertising and promotions.

Research conducted by the Hanoi School of Public Health last year showed that around 95 percent of the tobacco merchants surveyed in 10 provinces and cities had violated regulations that ban tobacco advertising and promotion as well as sponsorships.

Most of the merchants and residents said they did not know about the regulations.

In HCM City , a total of 10.5 million VND (41,796 USD) in fines were issued in 2010 and the first three months of this year.

Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Health Examination and Treatment Department under the Ministry of Health, said that the number of people smoking cigarettes in Vietnam last year totalled more than 15 million, with 4.1 million smoking pipe tobacco.

More than 47 percent of men and 1.4 percent of women in Vietnam smoke.

The rate fell compared with the figure in 2001 but was higher than other countries in the region, Khue said.

Thirty-three million people are secondhand smokers; 40,000 people die of smoking-relating diseases annually. /.