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

Dr Kidong Park
27 May 2018

It is my pleasure to join you at an event to observe the Word No Tobacco Day 2018 in this beautiful city of Da Nang.

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. Thirty percent of all heart disease deaths are caused by cigarette smoking.

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 affect 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 nonsmokers. Also, nonsmokers’ 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 one third of cases.

In Viet Nam, cardiovascular disease is the number 1 killer, responsible for 33% of total deaths in 2014, about 170,000 deaths. Thirty percent of all heart disease deaths are caused by cigarette smoking. About thirty percent 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. However, these efforts are not enough and much more need to be done.

Even after some reduction, male smoking rate is still high, with more than 45% of males currently smoking. Secondhand tobacco smoke has reduced significantly in all settings, but stays at high level in some settings such as hotel and restaurants. About 80% of customers reported being exposed to secondhand smoke in their last visit.

At the same time, tobacco tax and price in Viet Nam is very low compared with other countries. When calculate as percentage of retail price tobacco tax account for only 35% which is much lower than the global average of 56% and WHO recommendations of 70%.

Therefore, in order to achieve the goal of the national tobacco control strategy, which is to reduce male smoking rate to 39% by 2020, WHO recommends two priority measures:

First, increase tobacco tax by applying a specific tobacco tax at 2000 to 5000 VND per pack; and

Second, 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 a good 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 a good time in the city of Da Nang

Xin Cam on!