The cost of overcoming the tobacco consequences accounts for 1 per cent of Viet Nam’s GDP. — VNA/VNS Photo

Electronic nicotine delivery, known as e-cigarettes, must be completely banned in Việt Nam, said Dr Nguyễn Trung Nguyên, director of the Poison Control Centre under Bạch Mai Hospital at a recent workshop.

The Ministry of Information and Communications and the Fund for Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harmful Effects co-organised a training workshop to improve communication capacity on preventing and controlling the harmful effects of tobacco.

Nguyên said the chemical and drug composition of e-cigarettes is much more complex than that of traditional cigarettes. Synthetic marijuana existing in e-cigarettes has become the largest, most complex and most challenging drug type.

He said it is necessary to immediately ban e-cigarettes in Việt Nam without any trial basis.

Many countries have banned e-cigarettes. In the US, flavours other than mint and tobacco have been banned in e-cigarettes since 2020. The US is also reviewing the risk of tobacco and mint flavours, he said.

The European Commission and Canada did the same. China has banned all e-cigarettes containing flavours from October 2022, he said.

"E-cigarettes are completely harmful to health, opening the trend of abusing, being addicted to, and having uncontrolled exposure to synthetic chemicals. E-cigarette addiction poses a series of new diseases, serious health problems and huge medical costs,” he told the workshop.

Nguyễn Thị Thu Hương from the Fund for Prevention and Control of Tobacco Harmful Effects said e-cigarettes are becoming more popular among the Vietnamese youth.

According to a survey in 2022, the rate of e-cigarette use among students aged 13-15 years is 3.5 per cent. In 2019, this rate was 2.6 per cent. The rate increased significantly, placing at risk the achievements made by Việt Nam in reducing the rate of regular cigarette use over the past ten years.

She said there is also an increasing trend of taking heated tobacco products among young people. The heated tobacco products are diverse, many of which are products mixed between heated tobacco and e-cigarettes.

She proposed not piloting heated tobacco products and not allowing e-cigarettes to enter the Vietnamese market under the label of heated cigarettes, because disguised tobacco use would be difficult to control.

She said among both ASEAN countries and developed ones, Việt Nam is still one of the countries applying low tobacco tax rates (38.8 per cent of retail price) while the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended 75 per cent.

About VNĐ9 trillion was spent on buying cigarettes in Việt Nam in 2020 and treatment for diseases like lung cancer and gastrointestinal - upper respiratory tract cancer caused by tobacco cost VNĐ5.6 trillion, she said.

Nguyễn Tuấn Lâm, a representative from WHO, said WHO recommends that the National Assembly issue the revised Law on Prevention of Tobacco Harms to ban e-cigarettes.

As it takes a long time to issue a law, WHO recommends that in the short term, it is necessary to issue a resolution banning the import, production and sale of e-cigarette products in Việt Nam, he said, adding that this task must be done as soon as possible and assigned to the agency responsible for enforcing the ban.

There must be a new resolution with strict sanctions to prevent further increasing use of new-generation cigarettes among young people and to protect and prevent the country's young generation from becoming addicted to nicotine.

After the resolution is approved, it is necessary to add this provision to the revised Law on Prevention of Tobacco Harms, he said.

Participants at the workshop were told that more than one billion people smoke in the world. Among those, 847 million are male adults and 153 million are female adults.

There are 24 million young people aged 13 to 15 smoking.

Tobacco is a risk factor of death, disease, poverty and environmental, economic and social harm around the world.

According to Việt Nam’s Tobacco Control Fund, the world reports up to eight million deaths from smoking every year, of which about one million die of second-hand smoke.

In Việt Nam, about 40,000 people died of second-hand smoke each year.

According to WHO, the global economic loss caused by tobacco each year is estimated at US$1,400 billion. Tobacco is also one cause of forest destruction and environmental pollution.

Smoking releases about 3,000 to 6,000 tonnes of formaldehyde, 12,000 to 47,000 tonnes of nicotine and 300 to 600 million kg of toxic waste from cigarette butts to the environment every year.

The cost of overcoming the tobacco consequences accounts for 1 per cent of Việt Nam’s GDP. — VNS