Luong Ngoc Khue, director of the Vietnam Fund for the Prevention of Tobacco Harms, (Source: infonet.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) –  Vietnam’s Health Ministry and the Fund for the Prevention of Tobacco Harms on June 26 held a meeting of the tobacco control working group, gathering representatives from key tobacco control organisations in Vietnam and its development partners.

The meeting was attended by Head of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Health Programme Kelly Henning, and experts from the HealthBridge Foundation, World Health Organisation, Vital Strategies organisation and Chicago University, among others.

Luong Ngoc Khue, director of the Vietnam Fund for the Prevention of Tobacco Harms, said Vietnam has built a network on the prevention of tobacco harm in all 63 provinces and cities. The localities have built non-smoking areas and the cities of Ha Long, Hue, Nha Trang and Hoi An are developing smoke-free tourism areas.

Khue said about 1,200 secondary and high schools and nearly 130 colleges and universities nationwide have banned smoking.

However, he noted that at present, nearly half of Vietnamese men smoke, a high figure he said that needs to be reduced.

At the meeting, experts discussed the enforcement of the Law on the Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms in Vietnam, including increases in tobacco prices and import duties, inspections and punishment of violations in the implementation of a smoke-free environment and Vietnam’s Programme on Tobacco Prevention and Control.

According to Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, tobacco costs Vietnamese smokers 31 trillion VND (1.36 billion USD) per year.

Treatment for five major diseases - lung cancer, gastrointestinal-respiratory cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attacks and strokes, caused by smoking, are estimated to cost 24 trillion VND (1.05 billion USD).-VNA