HCM CITY — The mass media has a vital role to play in making the programme for a Smoke-Free Viet Nam effective, experts said at a workshop last Saturday.
Around 50 reporters from various publications in the country attended the media awareness workshop organised by the Tobacco Control Programme of the Viet Nam Steering Committee on Smoking and Health and the American Cancer Society.
Experts from the US and the Philippines shared experiences on writing news and stories that can draw the attention of readers and improve awareness and understanding of influences of smoking.
Truong Trong Hoang, director of the city’s health education and communication centre, said that the media should continuously work to improve public awareness and encourage people to protect their own health and that of their families.
The World Health Organisation estimates around 40,000 people die every year in Viet Nam due to illnesses related to smoking.
This figure could go up to 70,000 by 2030.
Around VND14 trillion (US$786 million) is spent on cigarettes every year in the country, and 20 per cent of the total healthcare budget is spent on treating illnesses related to smoking.
Speakers at the workshop noted that retail tobacco prices in Viet Nam were cheap at just VND3,500 per pack and VND14,000-15,000 for imported packs. This facilitated the growth of smokers in Vietnamese society.
Ulysses Dorotheo, manager of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control under the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, said that increasing taxes on tobacco would be a good way to reduce the rate of smokers.
Hoang stressed that an educational campaign to dissuade students at all levels from picking up the habit was very important.
The smoking prevention currently being carried out in the city’s districts would be extended to public places next year, he said. — VNS
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