A smoke-free website at www.clickkhongthuocla.vn , developed by voluntary students, was launched on March 11.

The website provides information relating to exchange activities and campaigns for a smoke-free environment, and part of a Multi-media Initiative "Click khong thuoc la" (translated "Click No-smoking"). It was initiated and implemented by the Family Health International (FHI) in cooperation with Vietnam Youth Union and Vietnam National Committee on Smoking and Health (VINACOSH).

According to Ha Anh Tuan, ambassador of "Click khong thuoc la" initiative, the launch of the website is expected to help young people, especially students, achieve a better awareness of the harms of smoking.

Luong Ngoc Khue, Head of the Health Ministry’s Therapy Department said that Vietnam is one of the countries with the highest rate of male smokers, at 56 percent. The rate tends to become larger among younger age groups. "With this Initiative we hope to contribute to reducing smoking in Vietnam and join efforts of moving tobacco control forward as a public health priority" said Dr. Albert Siemens, CEO of FHI, an international organisation that has supported public health and development research and programmes in Vietnam for over 10 years.

Every year, tobacco-users in Vietnam spend more than 820 billion VND on smoking, which is equivalent to 2.4 million tonnes of rice. The amount of money is also enough to feed 15.6 million people for a year, Khue said.

Smoking is not only harmful to health but also causes negative impacts on the economy, he added.

Cigarettes cause non-infectious diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems.

Vietnam has to spend 1.1 trillion VND each year to treat lung cancer, ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which are the consequences of smoking.

According VINACOSH’s statistics, at least 100 people in Vietnam die of tobacco-related diseases every day, or 40,000 a year, higher than the total fatalities from traffic accidents and HIV/AIDS combined.

As a result, the Vietnamese government ratified the UN framework convention on tobacco control in 2004.

Regulations prohibiting smoking in public places came into effect as of Jan. 1, 2010. A bill on tobacco harm prevention is being compiled for submission to the National Assembly next year./.