The Vietnam National Assembly unanimously voted in favor of banning smoking in public places, all forms of tobacco advertising and selling tobacco to children under the age of 18. The nationwide ban takes effect next May.
According to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) published on No Tobacco Day, approximately 40,000 youth die annually in Vietnam due to smoking. The WHO warned the number could jump to 70,000 by 2030 if the nation did not adopt measures to combat smoking.
The Vietnamese government has decided to take action. A law was introduced that would ban smoking in public places, prohibit the sales of tobacco to young people under 18 years of age and tobacco advertising. It overwhelmingly passed 440 out of 460 National Assembly Deputies Monday.
It also monitors the start of an anti-tobacco harm fund that will be established under the Ministry of Health and financially handled by the Ministry of Finance. Those who produce tobacco and import the product will be forced to pay a one percent special sales tax when the ban begins, 1.5 percent in 2016 and two percent three years later.
Vietnam Net reports the government decree will begin in May of next year.
Public places include schools, public transportation, workplaces, healthcare facilities and office buildings. Those who are found breaking the law will be strictly handled by the Ministry of Public Security.
“We are very happy about this development and congratulate everyone concerned for all the hard work in ensuring the final version of the law is strong and in line with the WHO-Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” said Bungon Ritthiphakdee, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) Director, in a press release.
A similar ban as well as a tax increase on tobacco was imposed in 2010, but it was widely ignored. A lot of people smoked in public places and cigarettes were being sold at many small kiosks in the country’s capital of Hanoi.
The National Assembly also passed four other pieces of legislation: the Higher Education Law, the Anti-Money Laundering Law, an amendment to the Labor Code and the Deposit Insurance Law.
As of 2012, there are more than 15.3 million smokers in Vietnam and 47 percent of those are adult males.