Vietnam: Hoi An works toward becoming smoke-free city

20 November 2018
Ha Linh
The Saigon Times

DANANG – Millions of leaflets with the slogan, “Say no to tobacco,” in three languages—Vietnamese, English and French—have been delivered to locals and tourists in Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province, for the last seven years to help Hoi An City become a smoke-free city.

Speaking at the sixth Regional Meeting of Smoke-free Cities in the Asia-Pacific Region in Hoi An City on November 20, Nguyen Van Son, vice chairman of Hoi An City, stated that the Hoi An government had succeeded in issuing a ban on smoking at tourist attractions and heritage sites, which has helped make the city ecofriendly and tailored to cultural values and the tourism industry.

In addition to the country’s major tourism cities, such as Ha Long, Hue and Nha Trang, the ancient town of Hoi An launched the program “Hoi An – The smoke-free tourism city” in 2011. The program is being executed by locals, students and tourists in the city to transform Hoi An City into a smoke-free location.

“Millions of visitors have praised Hoi An City for its fresh air, which is considered a success for the program,” Son noted, adding that handing out the “no smoking” leaflets was a new and efficient means of propaganda.

Addressing the meeting, Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien explained that in tourist cities, the ban on smoking was first enforced in restaurants, hotels, heritage sites, schools, hospitals and offices. Building a smoke-free city not only helps make the city more beautiful in tourists’ minds but also protects people’s health.

Due to the rising number of tobacco-related diseases, antismoking tasks and activities are being prioritized in Vietnam and other countries.

Among the solutions to prevent and fight the hazards of smoking, including applying a higher tax on tobacco and prohibiting tobacco advertising, building a smoke-free city is the most preferred path being followed by many countries.

The sixth Regional Meeting of Smoke-free Cities in the Asia-Pacific Region was co-organized by the Fund of Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harms, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Western-Pacific Region, attracting more than 100 international delegates from smoke-free cities in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as 50 delegates from Vietnam’s departments, agencies and ministries and representatives from WHO, SEATCA and the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control.

The meeting was aimed at giving a chance to countries and cities in Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region to share their experiences in building a smoke-free city and to strengthen the smoke-free cities’ network.