Ministry of Health sounds alarm over e-cigarettes

Update: 20:00 | 12/08/2020
The Ministry of Health has called for a crackdown on illegal new modern cigarette advertising and trading via e-commerce and social networks.
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E-cigarettes have the same harmful effects on people’s health as traditional tobacco, according to experts. (Photo: AFP/VNA)

The ministry recommended the ministries of Public Security, Culture, Sports and Tourism and Information and Communications, as well as the General Department of Customs, strengthen inspections into the products.

Tran Thi Trang, Deputy Director of the Legal Affairs Department, at the Ministry of Health, has said the new cigarettes are products that cannot be advertised, imported or traded in Vietnam.

“However, there still exists the use of these products as well as illegal trading, advertising in the country,” she said at a seminar on August 10 hosted by the Ministry of Health. “And this is an alarming problem.”

Besides traditional cigarettes, new cigarettes have appeared, including e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products and shisha.

The seminar alarmed about illegal advertising and trafficking of e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products and shisha.

E-cigarettes have been sold and advertised on social networks, attracting young people, experts warned at the seminar.

According to experts, e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products have mainly been brought into Vietnam by tourists or smugglers.

The Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department at the General Department of Customs has seized large quantities of smuggled e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.

Vietnam’s Law on Tobacco Harms Prevention and Control which came into practice in 2013 stipulated advertising, trading, and transporting tobacco materials, smuggled cigarettes were not allowed.

However, in recent years, new tobacco products have been traded and advertised illegally, according to Trang.

Due to the negative effects of e-cigarettes and shisha, particularly on young people, the Ministry of Health is working with the Ministry of Industry and Trade to propose the Government and the National Assembly to ban the use and import of e-cigarettes and shisha into Vietnam.

The number of Vietnamese people smoking in public and areas with smoking bans remains high. Authorities and schools should continue to spread information to raise public awareness of the harmful effects of smoking, experts said.

The seminar also revealed that e-cigarettes had been sold at exhibitions or trade fairs in public places, even near schools.

Hoang Thi Thu Huong, an expert from the Legal Affairs Department, said the tobacco industry was using many tricks to promote the new cigarettes.

Huong said tobacco companies used online influencers and hashtags on popular social media sites like Facebook and TikTok to advertise products and attract young customers.

They also advertised e-cigarettes at sporting and music events by printing tobacco products on hats, clothes and bags to be used as gifts for attendees.

“Cheap prices and the curiosity and tastes of a group of young people has turned Vietnam into one of the markets for the smuggling of new modern tobacco products,” she said.

“This may cause harm to people’s health, the economy, social order and security and the future generations of Vietnam.”

Measures should also be taken to prevent promotion, sponsorship and advertisement programs relating to cigarettes, according to Huong.

A school-age health survey in 2019 showed that up to 2.6 percent of students aged 13-17 used e-cigarettes.

According to Nguyen Tuan Lam, from the World Health Organisation in Vietnam, e-cigarettes and shisha have the same harmful effects on people’s health as traditional tobacco. They could cause cancer, including lung cancer, and respiratory-related diseases.

Forty-two countries have banned e-cigarettes, 56 countries allow e-cigarettes but have imposed strict regulations on trading and 30 countries have set a limitation for the amount of nicotine or other chemicals in e-cigarettes.

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(Source: VNA)