Statement of Dr Kidong Park on the occasion of World No Tobacco Day 2018

Dr Kidong Park
31 May 2018

It is my pleasure to participate in the meeting today to observe the Word No Tobacco Day 2018 at Ministry of Health Viet Nam.

WHO Viet Nam\Loan Tran

The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2018 is "Tobacco and heart disease." Heart and other cardiovascular diseases are the world’s leading causes of death. One in five of CVD deaths are caused by cigarette smoking and second-hand tobacco smoke.

Tobacco smoke contains high levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide affects the heart by reducing the amount of oxygen the blood is able to carry. Tobacco smoke also contains high levels of nicotine. Nicotine causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. With these 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 smokers’ health but also health of innocent people next to smokers, the second hand smokers. Long-term exposure to secondhand smoke has been shown to cause a 30% increase in the risk of heart disease in non-smokers. Also, non-smokers’ bodies tend to react more dramatically to tobacco exposure than do smokers’ bodies, so lower levels of smoke can cause adverse effects on second-hand smokers.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Globally tobacco kills 7.1 million each year. Of all the tobacco deaths, CVD accounts for about 20% of cases.

In Viet Nam, cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer, responsible for 33% of total deaths in 2014, about 170,000 deaths. About one fifth of all heart disease deaths can be prevented by no smoking and no second-hand smoking.

The government of Viet Nam in recent years have shown commitment to tobacco control and initial encouraging results have been achieved. These include the approval of the tobacco control law, pictorial health warnings, regular mass media communication and the establishment of the Viet Nam Tobacco Control Fund. With that smoking rate and exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke have been gradually reduced. For examples, between 2015 and 2010, smoking rate among adult males in urban areas has reduced by 6 % and the rate of exposure to secondhand tobacco has reduced by about 13%-14% at home, at work and on public transport.

The achievement of Viet Nam have been well-recognized by WHO and the international community. In 2015, Minister of Health was given the WNTD award for significant achievement in tobacco control, especially the establishment of the tobacco control fund which is an example for other countries. And we are pleased to learn that Minister is again given the Award at the World Conference on Tobacco Or Health organized in March this year in South Africa. Congratulation!

On the other hand, we would like to emphasize that, despite the encouraging and significant achievement, there is much to be done so that Viet Nam can achieve the goal of the National tobacco control strategy which is to reduce male smoking rate to 39% by 2020. To achive this WHO recommends two priority measures:

First, to increase tobacco tax by applying a specific tobacco tax at 2000 to 5000 VND per pack; this will help reduce smoking rate and increase government revenue.

Second, to enforce more strongly smoke-free environment.

WHO is working closely with the Ministry of Health and other partners in implementing both of these measures. Today, I am pleased to introduce a set of communication materials to support these interventions.

For tobacco tax: WHO together with the tobacco control Fund of the Ministry of Health have jointly developed a booklet on Questions and Answer on Tobacco Tax in Viet Nam and a set of 5 factsheets. These materials will provide evidence, international best practices and WHO recommendations for tobacco tax in Viet Nam. It will also answer all the key concerns of policy makers regarding tobacco tax increase.

For smoke-free environment: WHO together with the tobacco control Fund of the Ministry of Health have developed communication materials including leaflets, posters and no-smoking signs.

Colleagues and friends

WHO called on both government workplaces and private workplaces, especially hotels and restaurants to make the best use of these materials to start effectively implement smoke-free environment regulation to prevent heart diseases and to make your venues healthier, cleaner and more productive. This will also give the customers and visitors a more pleasant experience when they come to your workplace, hotels or restaurants.

In the long term, the combination of tobacco tax increase and smoke-free environment will lead to reduction of tobacco use and tobacco related deaths and diseases to benefit both health and economy of Viet Nam.

I wish everyone good health and again congratulations to Prof Tien and Ministry of Health Viet Nam!

Xin Cam on!