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Campaign urges Vietnam’s people to “Protect yourself and your loved ones” from second-hand smoke

(Hanoi, Vietnam and New York, USA December 6, 2016) – The Vietnam Women’s Union and the Viet Nam Tobacco Control Fund (Ministry of Health), today launched a campaign to show the deadly harm of second-hand tobacco smoke (SHS) on non-smokers. Global health not-for-profit organization Vital Strategies supported the development and implementation of the campaign, which is called “Protect yourself and your loved ones.” This campaign is the second stage of the “Women build smoke-free homes” program, launched on May 29, 2016, which urges women across Vietnam to encourage smokers to respect a voluntary smoking ban in the home and to support smokefree public places, in accordance with Vietnam’s national smokefree law.

The campaign will run for three months from December 2016 to February 2017. It centers on three public service announcements, featuring the true story of Ms. Nguyen Thi Huong – a 41- year old mother and non-smoking victim of tobacco-related lung cancer, as a result of her exposure to SHS.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer in Vietnam. SHS-related lung cancer among non-smoking women like Ms. Huong now accounts for 20 percent of lung cancer cases in Vietnam – and this figure is increasing. Through Ms. Huong’s powerful testimony, “Protect yourself and your loved ones” shows that SHS can harm the physical and economic health, and happiness, of any family. The campaign will be broadcast on TV and will also run on online newspapers and Vietnam’s most popular social networks, reaching millions of smokers and non-smokers.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Madame Nguyen Thi Huong, Vice Chairperson of the Vietnam Women’s Union, emphasizes: “These three public service announcements tell a true story of the suffering caused by exposure to tobacco smoke. Through this meaningful media campaign, we want to alert all smokers and non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke that any one of us can face a similar situation of loss and suffering. If anyone doubts the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, please watch this story and think again. Stop smoking today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer, Vital Strategies said: “We congratulate the Vietnam Women’s Union and the Ministry of Health on the launch of this powerful campaign. We also thank Ms. Huong for her bravery in telling her story as a non-smoking victim of tobacco-related lung cancer. Campaigns featuring the real stories of tobacco victims like Ms. Huong have been found to have a strong impact on attitudes, support for tobacco control policies and behaviors. Her determination to warn others about the harms of second-hand smoke, to help protect the health of other non-smoking women and children, is even more admirable given the extent of her illness. Tobacco will claim her life, but her story will remain in sharp rebuke to this deadly product and will encourage many tobacco users to make a quit attempt.”

The burden of tobacco use and SHS in Vietnam

According to the Viet Nam Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2015 (GATS), Vietnam has among the world’s highest rates of smoking, with 45.3 percent of adult males and 1.1 percent of adult females currently smoking tobacco – either cigarettes or water pipes. Studies suggest that up to 62 percent of people are exposed to SHS at home, 42 percent in the workplace and up to 80 percent in restaurants.

According to The Tobacco Atlas, tobacco is responsible for 22 percent of adult male deaths and 9.5 percent of adult female deaths – killing 72,800 people each year – more than the average in other middle-income countries. The higher proportion of tobacco-related deaths among Vietnamese women (compared with the proportion of adult female tobacco users) suggests that women in Vietnam suffer a disproportionate burden of death and disease from exposure to SHS. According to The Tobacco Atlas, SHS increases the risks of contracting lung cancer by 30 percent (small cell lung cancer by 300 percent) and coronary heart disease by 25 percent. Exposure to SHS killed more than 600,000 non-smokers globally in 2010 from causes of death including ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, asthma, and lung cancers.

Vietnam has shown a strong commitment to tobacco control, through the ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004 and passage of comprehensive national tobacco control legislation in 2012. On January 25, 2013, the Vietnamese government approved the National Strategy on Tobacco Control to 2020, which calls for reductions in smoking among teens (from 26 percent to 18 percent), male adults (from 47.4 percent to 39 percent), and female adults (to less than 1.4 percent).

The “Women build smoke-free homes” initiative launched by the Vietnam Women’s Union on 29 May, 2016 was welcomed by many associations across the country. It is being implemented through a variety of activities to help women: improve their knowledge of the harms of SHS and its effect on women’s and children’s health; create a non-smoking home; and motivate their relatives to be conscious of cigarette use and reduce SHS exposure. By not allowing SHS to harm people’s health and creating non-smoking homes, Vietnam’s women are helping to create a healthier, non-smoking environment. The Vietnam Women’s Union believes that the powerful message about the dangers of passive smoking in the “Protect yourself and your loved ones” campaign will help to ensure the success of “Women build smoke-free homes”.

People are encouraged to subscribe to the vn0khoithuoc social media channels

to watch the PSAs and to receive the latest information on the “Protect yourself and your loved ones” campaign.

The “Protect yourself and your loved ones” PSA and stills and transcripts from the PSA are available upon request.

About Vital Strategies:

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that seeks to accelerate progress on the world’s most pressing health problems. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help devellp and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, conduct research, and design strategic communication campaigns for policy and behavior change. To find out more, please visit or Twitter @VitalStrat.

For further information or comment, or to arrange an interview on this topic, please contact Tracey Johnston, Vital Strategies, at +44.7889.081.170 or