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Vietnam Moves to Ban Smoking at Weddings and Funerals

In a move to combat climbing smoking rates in Vietnam, heath officials have proposed banning the act at weddings and funerals.

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The proposal, submitted by Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien in advance of international No Tobacco Day, takes aim at smoking in both public places and offices, reports Vietnam News.

“…the minister has called for the strict inspection of no smoking compliance at workplaces, restaurants, and public transport facilities…[and that]…smoking signboards should be installed in agencies and government offices,” wrote the paper.

Tien, who is also a chairperson on the Management Council for the Tobacco Control Fund, has put the spotlight on the deadly vice that the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified as the world's single greatest cause of preventable death.

According to the Health Ministry's Legal Department, Vietnam has 15.3 million smokers who expose 60% of the population to secondhand smoke, leading to 40,000 smoking related deaths each year.

Targeted bans, like one in Hanoi, have been implemented on a local level. The capital has a total indoor smoking ban at workplaces, colleges, universities, academies and public transport facilities.

According to the Vietnam Tobacco Association, the country consumed 4.174 billion packs of cigarettes in 2012. With a population around 90 million, that’s good for an average of over 46 packs a year per person.

Cigarette smoking has been increasing year-on-year since 2010, when Vietnamese consumed 3.986 billion packs.

The WHO has previously stated that by 2030, the number of annual deaths from smoking-related illnesses in Vietnam could reach 70,000.

[Photo via Staffan Scherz]