Public smoking ban starts soon

December 23, 2009
LookAtVietnam – In 10 days time the ban on smoking in public spaces, approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, will take effect, but many people still have no idea about the new regulation.

Le Sang from Thanh Xuan District said that smoking was a habit that formed over many years, making it impossible to quit immediately. The ban cannot take effect if it does not allow people time to quit smoking, he added.

Nguyen Van Duong, a motorbike-taxi driver at Ha Noi’s Giap Bat Station, said he hadn’t heard about the ban. However, he believed it would be ineffective because thousands of passengers passed through the station each day and inspectors couldn’t punish everyone.

“I have been a cigarette smoker for 20 years. Cigarette addicts like me find it difficult to give up, unless we have gags over our mouths,” said Duong.

Doctor Nguyen Ngoc Bich of the Viet Nam Public Health Association said that in order for the ban to be effective, all people must be informed through an organised mass media campaign and other activities held by local authorities.

Coupled with these activities, Ministry of Health inspectors and other staff should be entrusted with enforcement, Bich added. He compared the idea to enforcement of the helmet regulation, where not only policemen but local watchmen were also responsible for monitoring compliance.

The ban was approved after Ministry of Health statistics revealed that more than 56 per cent of men in Viet Nam were active smokers, nearly half between 17 and 24 years old. The report also showed that about 60 per cent of 13-15 year-old children were passive smokers.

Nitty gritty

The ban will prohibit smoking in classrooms, pre-schools, health centres, libraries, cinemas, theatres, factories, office buildings and on public transportation.

Smoking will still be permitted in sports centres, stadiums, exhibition centres, lounges, entertainment centres, restaurants, hotels and discotheques in designated smoking areas.

A provision calls for smoking to be forbidden in all public places by the end of next year. PM Dung asked relevant authorities in the Ministry of Health to take responsibility for enforcing the ban. Fines of between VND50,000-100,000 will be imposed on violators.

Another regulation required tobacco producers and cigarette importers to inform the Ministry of Health of the tar and nicotine contents in their cigarettes. If the contents exceeded the regulated limit, the companies would receive fines ranging from VND20-30 million ($1,000-1,570) per year for each violation.

VietNamNet/Viet Nam News

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