More Vietnamese are opposed to smoking due to their better understanding of the health effects of long-term tobacco use, partially thanks to media campaigns, experts have said.
Mego Lien, Communication Associate at the World Lung Foundation (WLF), said both smokers and non-smokers in Vietnam had responded to clear messages about the health harms of smoking and secondhand smoke.
"Smokers who saw the [anti-smoking] ads said they were more concerned about their own health and the health of their families. Many even said they were more likely to quit. Non-smokers said the ads made them more likely to complain about being exposed to smoke from cigarettes, particularl y to protect children's health.
Lien was speaking at a meeting in Hanoi on May 5 between WLF, Vietnam's Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) to announce the results of a national mass media campaign to build support for the ban on smoking in indoor workplaces, indoor public places, and public transport taking effect on January 1 this year.
A post-campaign evaluation survey showed that 77 percent of Vietnamese people who saw the ads oppose being exposed to secondhand smoke in public places. This figure is 14 percent higher than that of people who did not see the mass media campaign (63 percent).
"This campaign used strong imagery to communicate that tobacco smoke harms those who inhale it directly and those who are exposed to it secondhand, especially children," said Sandra Mullin, WLF Senior Vice President of Communications.
"In Vietnam, 50 percent of male adults smoke, which is the equivalent of 17 million smokers," said Luong Ngoc Khue, Director of Medical Services Administration and Standing Office for the Vietnam Steering Committee on Smoking and Health (VINACOSH).
Jointly-developed by the Ministry of Health, WLF and WHO, the "Cigarettes are Eating You Alive" campaign aired nationally for five weeks, from December 2009 to January 2010 with messages being spread through television, posters and the press.