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Vietnam Ministry of Health Launches Mass Media Campaign to Support Smoke-Fre

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

(New York, NY and Hanoi, Vietnam) – Vietnam's Ministry of Health launched a new mass media campaign to support Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's Decision 1315, dated 21st August 2009, which mandates smoke-free public places across Vietnam. The campaign, called “Cigarettes are Eating You Alive,” will inform millions of Vietnamese smokers about the serious health effects of tobacco and secondhand smoke on adults and children. World Lung Foundation is providing technical and financial assistance for the campaign.

“Cigarettes are Eating You Alive” visually depicts how smoking damages vital organs of the body and can cause serious health problems, even death, in children who are exposed to cigarette smoke.

The campaign was originally created and used effectively as part of a comprehensive tobacco control program in New York City. The ads were rigorously tested in several countries, including Vietnam, and were found to motivate smokers to try to quit. The campaign has already aired in Ukraine, Lebanon, Poland and Australia, but Vietnam is the first country in Asia to launch these ads.

The campaign includes two television ads that will air for four weeks across Vietnam on both national and provincial television. The first ad shows in graphic detail how cigarettes damage the lungs, heart and brain by causing stroke. A second ad shows that children exposed to cigarette smoke suffer more respiratory infections, ear infections, asthma—even more sudden infant death.

Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Communications, World Lung Foundation, said, “Highly graphic messages can motivate people to stop smoking. This campaign uses strong imagery to communicate that smoking kills and secondhand smoke is also deadly, especially to children. We congratulate the Ministry of Health and the Vietnamese government for running this campaign, and look forward to future efforts to reduce the tobacco epidemic in Vietnam.”

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.

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. In Vietnam, it kills almost 40,000 people each year. Half of Vietnamese adult men are smokers, and about two-thirds of children and women are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke at home and in public places.