It has been a year and a half since the government's decision to ban smoking in public places took effect, and only 10 people have been fined a combined VND1.5 million (US$72), according to Health Ministry.
All violators reside in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai, the ministry's anti-smoking program office announced.
Ly Ngoc Kinh, the former chief of the ministry's Medical Treatment Management Bureau, said the number showed that the regulations on fining violators were not implemented properly.
In 2009, the central government issued the decision banning smoking in schools, kindergartens, healthcare facilities, libraries, theaters, cultural centers, public vehicles and indoor workplaces.
Fines for violating the ban range between VND50,000 and 100,000 ($2.4-4.8). The decision took effect on January 1, 2010.
According to Kinh, the decision says health inspectors and heads of commune or ward authorities are authorized to levy fines on violators, but there are not enough health inspectors to enforce the anti-smoking ban.
That's why a huge number of violators have been let off, he explained.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that tobacco kills 40,000 Vietnamese every year, and by 2030 this number will increase to 70,000 annually.