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Vietnam Health Ministry Praised by US Charity for Campaign to Reduce Smoking

According to a US-based charity foundation, Vietnam seems to be winning the war on smoking.

On Wednesday, March 7, the country was globally recognized by Bloomberg Philanthropies with an award for "Global Tobacco Control," along with El Salvador, Mexico, Senegal, Uganda, and Argentina. The foundation praised Vietnam's Ministry of Health for its work in tobacco surveillance and monitoring.

The award made note of a slew of initiatives taken by the ministry, such as increasing public education and implementing stronger regulations on the advertising of tobacco products. The government's actions have resulted in a 2.1% decrease in smoking among the general population, according to VnExpress.           

Some regulations are immediately visible. For example, new laws now require that 50% of tobacco packaging be covered with warning labels. Other policies, like a ban on smaller packet sizes and a ban on sales within 100 meters of schools, aim to keep cigarettes out of the hands of children.

“We are thrilled with the result,” said Kelly Hennig, a member of Bloomberg’s Public Health Team who worked with the Vietnamese Ministry of Health on the project, hailing the legislation for being "strong" and "life-saving".

Smoking in the workplace also saw a decrease of 14%. Among women, the clear minority of smokers in Vietnam, the number dropped to 1.1% from 1.4%. Among men, that number hovers around 45%, according to ministry surveys from 2017.

“Smoking is becoming less perceived as normal behavior,” said Pham Thi Hoan Anh, the Vietnam Country Director for Healthbridge, an international health organization. "It’s a good sign for public health and for the health of the next generation."

[Photo via Bao Bac Giang]

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