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Mass Media Campaign Launched to Support New Smokefree Law

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(Hanoi, Vietnam) – A national mass media campaign was launched today in Hanoi to support the implementation of Viet Nam’s new smokefree law, which came into effect on May 1st, 2013. The campaign, which combines TV ads, SMS campaigns and a dedicated website, was developed by the Vietnam Committee Office of Smoking and Health (VINACOSH) and the Youth Union of Vietnam with technical and financial support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, World Lung Foundation (WLF) and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

The new law bans smoking in health facilities, schools, kindergartens and child entertainment venues and in all other indoor public places including restaurants, workplaces and public transportation.

The campaign features two graphic TV commercials, entitled “Cigarettes Are Eating You Alive” and “Cigarettes Are Eating Your Baby Alive”, which graphically illustrate the serious health effects of tobacco and secondhand smoke on adults, babies and children. “Cigarettes Are Eating Your Baby Alive” specifically shows that babies and children exposed to cigarette smoke suffer more respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome.

Peter Baldini, Chief Executive Officer, World Lung Foundation, commented: “Research shows that when people understand why smokefree laws are being introduced, they are more likely to support and comply with those laws. Graphic campaigns such as these help people understand the real and specific dangers of secondhand smoke both to adult smokers, non-smokers and children. Babies, in particular, have respiratory systems that are highly vulnerable to the damage caused by secondhand smoke. We are confident this campaign will help engender compliance with the new law, which will in turn save many lives.”The advertisements have been rigorously tested in Viet Nam and several other countries, including Australia, Lebanon, Poland and Ukraine and have been found to motivate smokers to try to quit. In this campaign, the advertisements also provide information on the new smokefree law and encourage viewers to register their support for the law, either by visiting or texting KKT to 6089. A supporting SMS campaign will also encourage youth to support the smokefree law.

About Tobacco Use in Vietnam

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 47.4 percentof males and 1.4 per cent of females (aged 15 and over) smoke cigarettes in Viet Nam. This means that 15 million adults smoke tobacco. In addition, 73.1 percent of adults report being exposed to secondhand smoke at home while 55.9 percent of workers report secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in indoor workplaces. According to The Tobacco Atlas, prevalence among youth is lower; 5.9 percent of male students aged 13-15 and 1.2percent of female students aged 13-15 identify as current smokers. A significant proportion of youth (over 58percent) are exposed to secondhand smoke in the home and tobacco costs Viet Nam US $78 million in direct costs.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the world today, and is responsible for more than five million deaths each year—one in ten preventable deaths worldwide. Research has shown that mass media campaigns are one of the most effective means to encourage people to stop smoking. It is one of the World Health Organization’s M-P-O-W-E-R (W=Warn) strategies to reduce tobacco consumption. MPOWER strategies are endorsed and promoted by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, of which World Lung Foundation is a principal partner.