Smoking causes 40 000 deaths in Viet Nam each year

News release

40 000 people in Viet Nam die each year from tobacco-related diseases, such as stroke and coronary artery diseases, among others. Thirty percent of all heart disease deaths are caused by cigarette smoking. On World No Tobacco Day, 31 May, WHO is calling attention to the impact of tobacco on cardiovascular health with the campaign theme “Tobacco Breaks Hearts.”

WHO/Yoshi Shimizu

In Viet Nam, almost one in two adult males (45.3%) are currently smoking tobacco. In addition, nearly 34.5 million non-smokers are exposed to second-hand smoking at home, restaurant, hotel and in the workplaces. This puts a great number of people at risk of cardiovascular disease. Not only smokers but also non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke also face an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

In Viet Nam and other places, many people might be aware that smoking can harm their health, particularly associating smoking with lung cancer and respiratory diseases. However, many smokers and non-smokers alike still lack awareness of the impact of smoking on heart health. This is why WHO decided the theme of World No Tobacco Day this year should be tobacco and heart diseases.

Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative to Viet Nam.

Tobacco smoke contains high levels of carbon monoxide, which affects the heart by reducing the amount of oxygen the blood is able to carry. Tobacco smoke also contains high levels of nicotine, which causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. With this dual-effect, people who use tobacco are more likely to have heart attacks, high blood pressure, blood clots, strokes, hemorrhages, aneurysms, and other disorders of the cardiovascular system.

Tobacco smoke affects not only the health of smokers themselves but also that of non-smokers around them. Long-term exposure to secondhand smoke has been shown to cause a 30% increase in the risk of heart disease in non-smokers.

Studies have found that people’s awareness that tobacco is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease is variable across the Western Pacific Region. Around 97% of adults in Cambodia and 85% of adults in the Philippines are aware that smoking causes heart attack, while the proportion is only 69% in Viet Nam.

Reducing demand and supply for tobacco products

Viet Nam is among countries in the Western Pacific Region that have ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It obliges Parties to the Convention to take steps to reduce the demand for and supply of tobacco products. This includes protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke, banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, requiring health warnings on tobacco packaging, promoting tobacco cessation, and increasing tobacco taxes.

In 2013, Viet Nam also launched the National Strategy on Tobacco Control through 2020, which aims to reduce the smoking rate among youths and adolescents between 15-24 years old from 26% in 2011 to 18% in 2020, and among adult males from 47.4% in 2011 to 39% in 2020.

Viet Nam has been trying to reduce smoking rates by implementing a tax-and-price measure that would contribute to curbing demand for tobacco. However, so far tobacco tax and price in Viet Nam are still very low compared to those of other countries in the WHO Western Pacific Region and the world – tobacco tax rate in Viet Nam is 35.6% of retail price compared to the world average of 56% and WHO recommendation of 70%.

New campaign for smoke-free workplaces

While the Tobacco Control Law, which has been effective in Viet Nam since 2013, specifically prohibits smoking in indoor public and workplaces, enforcement of the law is still poor, with responsibility falling to managers and owners of public places. This leaves millions of people vulnerable to second-hand smoke.

To combat this issue, WHO will soon launch “Revolution Smoke-Free”, a campaign calling on employers in the Western Pacific Region—including those operating in public places such as restaurants, hotels and public transport—to make their workplaces 100% smoke-free. Traditionally, WHO works closely with governments to adopt and enforce smoke-free legislation, but opposition from other sectors often hinders the laws from being passed and fully implemented. Viet Nam will be the first country to kick off the campaign on World No Tobacco Day 2018.

“In order to achieve the goal of the National Strategy on Tobacco Control, which is to reduce male smoking rate to 39% by 2020, WHO recommends two priority measures: to increase tobacco tax by applying a specific tobacco tax at 2000 to 5000 VND per pack; and to implement more effectively smoke-free environment,” says Dr Park.

For more information, please contact:

Ms Tran Thi Loan
Tel: +84 24 38 500 100
Fax: +84 24 37 265 519