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New campaign encourages the public to challenge smokers violating Viet Nam’s smoke-free laws

(Hanoi, Viet Nam, and New York, USA) – Vietnam Tobacco Control Fund – Ministry of Health has launched a national advertising campaign featuring graphic illustrations of the harms of secondhand smoke – heart disease, asthma attacks and more – to increase public support and compliance with smoke-free laws first implemented in 2013. The campaign was developed and implemented with technical support from Vital Strategies, a global health organization that works in over 60 countries.

Prof Luong Ngoc Khue, Director of the Viet Nam Tobacco Control Fund, said: “This powerful campaign marks an important step forward in fighting Viet Nam’s leading preventable killer – tobacco use. We believe it will encourage more smokers to comply with Viet Nam’s smokefree laws; increase quit-smoking attempts, particularly among parents; and empower non-smokers to ask people not to smoke in their presence. We thank Vital Strategies for its support of this campaign and look forward to seeing progress in the weeks and months ahead.”

Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy, Advocacy and Communication, Vital Strategies commented: “We congratulate the Ministry of Health and the Viet Nam Tobacco Control Fund on this innovative, multi-phase national campaign. Tobacco kills a higher than average proportion of people in Viet Nam, including a disproportionate number of female non-smokers. Many more are sickened and disabled, including children. The graphic nature of this campaign makes tobacco’s harms more salient and will result in increasing support for Viet Nam’s smoke-free law.”

VNTCF will broadcast different tobacco control messages each month until the end of August. Throughout April, the first phase of the campaign will broadcast three new public service announcements (PSAs) that graphically illustrate the harms of exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) in public places where smoking is banned– offices, cafés and public transport. “Smokefree Office”, “Smokefree Transport” and “Smokefree Café” communicate that SHS contains thousands of toxic, poisonous substances and that 85 percent of it is invisible.




Smokefree Office” graphically shows how SHS travels around an office, attacking the vital organs of co-workers and increasing their chances of suffering heart disease and cancer even if they’ve never smoked. “Smokefree Transport” and “Smokefree Café” show SHS causing discomfort and illness, including triggering severe health problems in children. All three ads feature someone complaining about a smoker who is breaking Viet Nam’s smokefree laws, modelling behavior intended to inspire non-smokers to assert their rights under the law.

Focus groups in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City found these PSAs to be highly impactful. Both smokers and non-smokers said the PSAs were easy to understand and would make them more concerned about exposing others to SHS, or being exposed to SHS, particularly for children. More than seven in ten smokers said the PSAs would make them more likely to avoid smoking in indoor public places. Nine in ten non-smokers said the PSAs would make them more likely to speak up about being exposed to SHS in indoor public places.

The 30-second PSAs are being broadcast on national TV channels, including VTV1, VTV2 and VTV3 and on LED screens in office buildings and health facilities throughout the country. A national billboard campaign on highways at bus and train stations and on buses reinforces key messages from the PSAs. In addition, the campaign has now launched on social media via vn0khoithuoc (Smoke-free Viet Nam) – the official Facebook page for Viet Nam’s tobacco control program. In addition to amplifying the messages from the PSAs, the Smoke-free Viet Nam Facebook page hosts concise, simple and eye-catching infographics that make it easier for individuals to share facts about the harms of tobacco with others.  It is also a forum where a growing community of individuals can exchange comments, knowledge, stories and expressions of support for a smoke-free Vietnam. More information is available at

The “Smokefree Office”, “Smokefree Transport” and “Smokefree Café” PSAs and stills and transcripts from the PSAs are available upon request. Further phases of the national campaign will include new PSAs to support the Viet Nam Women’s Union’s campaign to encourage smokefree homes and PSAs to encourage smoking cessation.

The burden of tobacco use in Viet Nam

Deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for 73% of total deaths from illness and injury in Viet Nam; tobacco use is one of the main drivers for this burden of NCDs. According to WHO, tobacco kills more than 40,000 of Viet Nam’s people every year. According to the National Cancer Hospital, up to 96.8% of lung cancer patients are smokers. According to the Viet Nam Institute of Health Strategy and Policy, tobacco-related diseases like stroke, coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer are leading causes of death among both men and women in Viet Nam, with tobacco use accounting for 12% of the total burden of illness and premature death.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. Our team combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop 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 to arrange an interview with a Vital Strategies public health and tobacco control expert, please contact